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Cruises and Sailing

 January 07, 2002
Princess Takes Passengers To Historic Battlegrounds Of The Pacific

 Princess passengers will have the opportunity to sail back in time to visit tranquil tropical islands that became the sites of some of the most important Pacific Theater battles of World War II. Two special Regal Princess sailings revisit these historic areas this year with a 32-day Tokyo to San Francisco voyage on April 27 and a 22-day Honolulu to Osaka cruise on October 6. "These Pacific Islands itineraries will appeal not only to veterans, who will enjoy the unique opportunity to recall their personal experiences from this dramatic time in our country's history, but also their children, relatives and all history buffs," said Dean Brown, Princessí executive vice president of customer service and sales. "Both sailings offer an intriguing combination of the past and present by providing a glimpse into WWII through the serene beauty of today's Pacific region."

The unusual itineraries enable passengers to follow the progress of the war across the Pacific from the sites of early Japanese attacks in U.S. territories to the final battles in Japan. Along the way, passengers will be able to participate in a number of special WWII-themed activities, including veterans' receptions, period films and historical overviews by guest lecturers, including WWII historian Robert Reynolds. In addition, onboard ceremonies honoring the fallen of significant battles at sea will take place as Regal Princess sails near the resting places of sunken warships or passes through the waters in which confrontations occurred. Traveling either westward or eastward through history, these once-in-a-lifetime journeys visit some of the most prominent Pacific battlegrounds. The October 6 sailing begins in Honolulu, site of the infamous Pearl Harbor attack in 1941. From there passengers will visit the following ports:

Midway - Regal Princess' first call is at Midway Atoll, the site of one of the Pacific war's most decisive battles. In 1942 the tide turned for U.S. forces when they destroyed four Japanese aircraft carriers in what became Japan's last major offensive. Today, this U.S. territory is operated by the National Parks Service and is an important bird sanctuary.

Marshall Islands - The next stop is at Majuro Atoll, in the Marshall Islands. This tropical island housed a small Japanese garrison which surrendered to the U.S. in 1944. The U.S. Navy and Air Force used the islands for target practice and bombing runs. Today this most westernized of the Marshall Islands is home to about 20,000 people.

Guadalcanal - Regal Princess then travels to the site of one of the fiercest confrontations between the Allied forces and the Japanese Army - Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. For more than five months during 1942-3 battles raged for control of this airfield. Eventually the Allies' first major offensive in the Pacific proved successful and the Japanese evacuated the island. The 60th anniversary of the Guadalcanal landing - the first American invasion on enemy-held islands in the Pacific - takes place this year. Passengers will be able to visit the American War Memorial and can plant a tree along the Avenue of Honor in memory of any veteran of a Pacific battle.

Guam - Next up is Guam, which served as a strategic location for both sides during the war. The Japanese landed here just after the attack on Pearl Harbor and occupied the island until U.S. forces recaptured it in 1944 - when it became Admiral Chester Nimitz's headquarters. Today this "metropolis of Micronesia" is a U.S. territory that continues to house significant military forces.

Saipan - The most strategic of the Mariana Islands, Saipan was the key territory protecting the Japanese homeland. U.S. forces captured the island in 1944, offering them a base from which to recapture Guam and launch bombing raids on Tokyo - including the atom bomb run of the Enola Gay, which flew from nearby Tinian. Today Saipan is part of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands and is a favorite destination of Japanese honeymooners. Passengers will enjoy both sunny beaches and moving memorials, including the American Memorial Park.

Iwo Jima - Regal Princess will cruise by Iwo Jima, one of the last, and most famous, battle sites of WWII. A month-long confrontation here in early 1945 provided U.S. aircraft with an important base, and also served as the location of the famed flag-raising photo that became one of the best-known images of the Pacific war. Iwo Jima was returned to Japan in 1968 and today this volcanic island is considered a sacred shrine. Regal Princess will circle the largely uninhabited island allowing passengers to see landing beaches as well as Mt. Suribachi, where U.S. Marines raised the American flag.

Okinawa - The ship then sails for the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the war, in which more than 250,000 people fought ñ and more than half of them perished. American forces took Okinawa after three months of fighting in 1945. The island was returned to Japan in 1972.

Hiroshima - Regal Princess makes its next call at the site of the first atomic bomb drop in August 1945. The city, 90 percent of which was leveled by the explosion, has been largely rebuilt except for the Peace Memorial Park, which serves as a reminder of the war's destruction.

Osaka - This historic cruise winds up in the Japanese city of Osaka, which served as an important industrial center and port during the war.

The April 27 cruise calls at the same historic ports in reverse, replacing Osaka with Tokyo. In addition, this longer voyage will follow the visit to Midway with calls in the tropical paradises of Kauai, Honolulu, Maui and Hilo before heading to its final destination, San Francisco. On either voyage passengers will enjoy the comfort of the 1,590-passenger Regal Princess, where the '40s war era comes to life with a number of special activities. Celebrity guests from the period, historians, Pearl Harbor survivors and veterans will all share in the cruise experience, while a USO Night, Officers' Black and White Ball/Veterans' receptions and Big Band/Swing Night fill the ship's stages. The Princess Theater and in-cabin television lineup will both feature '40s movies and programming. Passengers will also be able to participate in a series of fundraising events for a veterans' organization or other related charity.