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Princess has started it's Galveston cruises

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VALENCIA -- A Princess Cruises vessel started sailing Monday from its new home port of Galveston, Texas, as the Valencia-based cruise line inaugurated a new route to the western Caribbean.

The 109,000-ton, 2,600-passenger Grand Princess will make weeklong, four-port trips to the islands from Galveston along the Gulf of Mexico. The ship features amenities such as a poolside movie screen, a steakhouse, an Asian-inspired spa and educational programs.

"With more Princess ships in the Caribbean than ever before this season, we were in a wonderful position to expand into a new home port," said Jan Swartz, senior vice president for customer service, in a printed statement.

"Galveston is a strong addition to our program and offers our passengers (a) distinctly different cruise option. We're offering a fantastic new itinerary and a very convenient option for Texans and our western U.S. passengers, who will enjoy much shorter travel time to and from their Caribbean cruise."

The departure Monday was the first of 22 through April 9 for the Grand Princess on round trips with calls at Costa Maya, Mexico; Grand Cayman, Cozumel and Belize -- a new port for Princess.

"We understand that the introduction of a new home port by Princess is a rare occasion, and we are very proud to be a part of their growth strategy," the Galveston port director, Steven M. Cernak, wrote. "The Port of Galveston has come a long way in less than three years, and we consider our cruise growth to be phenomenal."

Princess Cruises is a global cruise and tour company operating a fleet of 14 ships. The company, which will turn 40 in 2005, is part of Carnival Corp.

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