Pacific Encounter is a Grand-class cruise ship operated by P&O Cruises Australia, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, and is the second ship in the cruise line's history to operate under this name. She is the third Grand-class ship in the fleet, following Grand Princess and Pacific Adventure, and debuted in 2002. Star Princess is scheduled to be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia, debuting... Read more
Pacific Encounter is a Grand-class cruise ship operated by P&O Cruises Australia, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation & plc, and is the second ship in the cruise line's history to operate under this name. She is the third Grand-class ship in the fleet, following Grand Princess and Pacific Adventure, and debuted in 2002. Star Princess is scheduled to be transferred to P&O Cruises Australia, debuting for the company as Pacific Encounter in November 2021.
In January 1998, the then-unnamed ship was ordered as part of a two-ship order made by Princess with Fincantieri, with each ship costing US$425 million. The two 109,000 GT Grand-class ships were scheduled to be delivered in 2001, and slotted to sail in the Caribbean from Port Everglades year-round. Later, in October 2000, Princess announced Star Princess would instead be deployed to Los Angeles for Mexican Riviera cruises following her delivery, with Alaska itineraries during the summers. Star Princess would become the first then-dubbed "mega-ship" ever to be homeported in Los Angeles and also cruise from the West Coast on a full-time basis.
Star Princess was launched on 10 May 2001 at Fincantieri's shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy. On 29 June 2001, a fire started in a galley on board when sparks from a welding torch ignited it. The fire spread into a dining room but damage was not extensive and construction continued until completion on 25 January 2002.
Star Princess was christened on 25 January 2002 at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard by her godmother, Gunilla Antonini, wife of Fincantieri's executive chairman, Corrado Antonini.
At the time of her delivery to Princess Cruises, Star Princess was too large to make a Panama Canal transit, so to arrive in Los Angeles, she embarked on an eastward voyage from Italy, taking her through the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, the Indian Ocean, and a 26-day inaugural voyage across the Pacific Ocean.
Star Princess' first homeport was Los Angeles and her maiden season featured itineraries to the Mexican Riviera, with her first cruise from Los Angeles, a 3-day cruise, held on 10 March 2002. That same year, Hong Kong TV drama, Ups and Downs in the Sea of Love, was filmed on board Star Princess, among other locations.
She sailed to Alaska from Vancouver beginning summer 2003. In fall 2003, she became the first vessel of more than 100,000 GT to sail in Australian waters after she arrived in Sydney on 26 November 2003. She moved to Southeast Asia in the spring of 2004 before cruising the Mediterranean in the summer of 2004, the Caribbean that fall and winter, and the Baltic the following summer. She made her first trip to South America and Antarctica in January 2008.
For winter 2019–2020, she was homeported in Los Angeles and sailed itineraries to the Mexican Riviera, Sea of Cortez, and Hawaii. In summer 2020, she was scheduled to homeport in San Francisco for Alaska voyages. However, following Princess' suspension of operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all summer 2020 voyages have since been cancelled.
In August 2018, Princess' sister brand, P&O Cruises Australia, announced that Star Princess would be transferred to the P&O fleet in late-2021, joining her sister ship, Golden Princess, which was set to join P&O in October 2020. It also announced in November 2019 that she would be renamed Pacific Encounter upon joining its fleet. However, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Carnival Corporation accelerated the transfer of Star Princess from Princess to P&O in October 2020, thus cancelling all final voyages she was originally scheduled to sail for Princess through 2021.
In December 2019, P&O announced that Pacific Encounter would homeport in Brisbane beginning in November 2021 and cruise to different destinations in Oceania, including the Queensland coast and Melanesia islands.