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Newest Princess taking shape

You could say the timing is perfect for the name of the newest ship for Princess Cruise Lines.

You could say the timing is perfect for the name of the newest ship for Princess Cruise Lines. It's the year of the Royal Family (or one of them) with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in June and the presence of the princes, William and - yes, even - Harry, and their grandmother at the Olympic Games. Right on the heels of that, Princess Cruises announces the name of its new ship will be called the Regal Princess.

While the staffs of the cruise line and the Fincantieri Shipyard in Italy were celebrating the laying of the Regal's keel in a ceremony in Monfalcone, at the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea, I imagine passengers are more interested in her name. She is a sister to the also aptly named Royal Princess, which became a news item - also this year - when she was "floated out," taking her to the final stage of preparation to sail the Mediterranean next year.

If the name Regal Princess sounds familiar, it should. As many cruise lines do, Princess has dug into history and named the second ship in the Royal Class after a former member of its fleet. In 1988, Princess acquired the Sitmar Line. Construction of two ships was scheduled to be finished in 1990: the Crown Princess and the Regal Princess. The Regal eventually was transferred to P&O's Australian division. Still in the same "royal family," she now sails year-round in Australia and New Zealand as the Pacific Dawn.

Now the new Regal Princess has gone public with the laying of her keel. This is no simple task. At that stage, the ship already weighs 500 tonnes and sits in the building dock, where ships truly are built from the bottom up. By the time this 3,600-passenger cruise ship is ready, two million person-hours will have been invested in her construction.

Naturally, the two new Princesses - Royal and Regal - will have many of the same features.

Like a greatly expanded atrium, a dramatic over-the-water SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet out from the top deck, private poolside cabanas, the new Princess Live! television studio and balconies on all outside staterooms.

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Earlier, I told you about the Carnival Breeze's test to ensure deck chairs and loungers could be held for only 40 minutes despite how much "stuff" was left by passengers to reserve them. The "deck police" monitored empty loungers and if the passenger wasn't back in 40 minutes, their items were removed for safekeeping and the space was made available.

Well, it's no longer a test. The policy is to be introduced gradually and fleetwide implementation on all 24 Carnival ships is expected by next week.

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There will be no bands, streamers or "first down the river" claims. Quietly, the Nile River between Cairo and Luxor will open. It has been closed for security reasons and problems with water depths, but the government believes security issues are not issues, and dredging has solved fluctuating river levels.

Abercrombie and Kent offers Nile River cruises for the full 850 kilometres, starting in 2013. Others will surely follow.

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If you're an old movie buff, you'll love this cruise. On board: Debbie Reynolds, Mickey Rooney, Arlene Dahl, Sally Ann Howes, filmmaker Norman Lloyd and the Alloy Orchestra. The hosts of Turner Classic Movies, Robert Osborne and Ben Mankiewicz, will be emcees.

I wonder if Mickey will bring his exwives along - that might fill an entire deck.

Prices start at $1,095 (per person double occupancy). More at

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