A colossal cruise ship will drop anchor in Santa Barbara on Sunday, May 9, as part of its trip up the Pacific Coast to Alaska.

According to Waterfront Director John Bridley, Princess CruisesSapphire Princess will spend the day off the coast, arriving at around 7 a.m. and departing by 4 p.m. It’s the fourth time the Princess has come to local waters since 2005, the last time being in 2009 when it made an unscheduled stop in Santa Barbara over concerns of swine flu near its Mexican Riviera destination.

A Princess cruise ship makes a Santa Barbara stop in 2009
Paul Wellman (file)

In a press release issued Friday, Bridley said that — of the ship’s 2,600 passengers and 1,000 crewmembers — around 2,300 on board will descend upon the city to shop and sightsee. The cruise industry estimates that, per couple, passengers spend around $200 per port call. If the numbers are right, the area could rake in as much as $200,000 in instant retail revenue on Mother’s Day.

Bridley said that Santa Barbara sees an average of one or two cruise visits per year, and that there have been 11 such stops since 2002. Necessitating a huge amount of coordination and planning, each visit brings together a number of organizations —Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce, Conference and Visitors Bureau, Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, Waterfront Department, and Waterfront Merchants Associations — to shuttle and direct visitors around town.

The Sapphire Princess — a sight to behold perched in the sea along the coastline — is about 950 feet long and weighs in at nearly 110,000 tons. Its average cruising speed is 21 to 23 knots.

While the local public won’t be able take tours of the ship, its captain will be hosting a VIP tour and luncheon for a few area business leaders. City councilmember Frank Hotchkiss and the captain will also reportedly trade commemoration plaques. After it chugs out of town, the Princess has planned port calls in San Francisco, Astoria, Victoria and Vancouver.


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