INTERNATIONAL. Princess Cruises has announced a major partnership with Harding that will see its retail operations – previously run in-house – managed by the cruise retail specialist across its 14-vessel fleet. The landmark agreement also covers three new ships, with the first taking to the seas from 2022.

In a statement today, Princess and Harding said that their partnership “realises the strategic ambitions and joint commercial thinking of both companies in the venture. Never before in cruise retail has a move of such scale taken place – a clear sign of the ambition of both companies to cleverly use the restart as an opportunity to reimagine what is possible with retail at sea.”

Ready to restart: Diamond Princess is one of ten Medallion Class ships in the Princess fleet that will have resumed operations by late November, with Harding as the new fleetwide retail partner

Harding and Princess said the partnership would be based on “a high set of values that put their people and customers at the heart of everything they do”.

Princess Cruises Chief Operations Officer Natalya Leahy said: “When Harding approached us several months ago, we knew they would be a partner with true vision, strong cultural alignment, and the proven ability to continue growing our retail proposition. Today’s announcement comes after extensive and detailed discussions about what is best for our guests, our teammates, and our brand partners, and we are confident Harding will carry on the great foundation built by our team.”

Princess Cruises Chief Operations Officer Natalya Leahy (left) and Vice President of Retail Kelli Coleman hail the highly significant step to outsource retail operations, with the transfer to Harding across 14 ships one of the biggest ever in the cruise sector

Harding President Neil Harding added: “In my 30 years of cruise retailing I have been fortunate to see some genuinely groundbreaking changes. Today is a landmark day in so many ways. We highly value this venture with Princess and we are grateful for the trust and confidence they have placed in us.”

As a key element in the transition, the existing Princess retail team will join the Harding business.

Harding Managing Director James Prescott said: “I could not be more delighted to welcome the Princess team to Harding to be part of a new team that delivers the best of the best. I have been incredibly impressed by the level of professionalism, ability, drive and sheer determination of the Princess team as we have worked hand-in-hand on this venture. The values of both businesses are so similar. This is a true long-term partnership with mutually aligned objectives and total commitment and engagement from throughout the organisations, putting data-led, customer-centric actions at the centre.”

By 28 November, ten Medallion Class ships – Majestic Princess, Grand Princess, Ruby Princess, Enchanted Princess, Sky Princess, Regal Princess, Caribbean Princess, Island Princess, Diamond Princess and Emerald Princess – will have returned to service or are scheduled to restart operations. They will take guests to Alaska, the Caribbean, the Panama Canal, Mexico, Hawaii and the California coast.

Princess Cruises Vice President of Retail Kelli Coleman said: “This feels like a new beginning. Our great industry is rising once again, with ever greater confidence and ever greater vision. These are exciting times for all of us in this industry, and I cannot wait to get started again.”

Princess Cruises is part of Carnival Corporation. Its fleet of 14 ships carries around two million guests each year to 380 destinations around the world.