Princess ships swap names, delivery dates

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. -- Princess Cruises swapped the names of two ships currently under construction, including the fire-damaged Diamond Princess.

The Sapphire Princess, which was slated to debut in May 2004, has been moved up to February 2004 and renamed the Diamond Princess. The vessel will begin sailings in Mexico in March 2004 and move to Alaska for the summer.

The Diamond Princess, severely burned in an early-October fire at the shipyard in Japan, will take the Sapphire Princess moniker. That ship will now be delivered in May 2004, Princess and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries shipyard said. The vessel will sail in Alaska.

As reported, the damaged Diamond Princess' 2003 season was cancelled; Princess said it was able to accommodate many of the Diamond's guests on the Star Princess.

Princess executive vice president Dean Brown said the yard will use resources from other yards and commit nearly two full teams to each ship to meet the new building schedule The sister ships are both being constructed at the Mitsubishi shipyard in Nagasaki.

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