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HEARD ON THE BEAT / TRAVEL & TOURISM

Sailing in Style

September 26, 1997|NANCY RIVERA BROOKS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Ever yearned to experience virtual reality on the high seas? Golf while sailing?

Then Los Angeles-based Princess Cruises has a ship for you, if you can wait until May and then fly to Europe.

That's when and where Princess Cruises will unveil its newest and biggest ship, the Grand Princess, which is the largest and most expensive cruise ship ever built. At 109,000 tons and $450 million, the Grand Princess is part of the cruise industry's if-we-build-it-they-will-cruise belief in the potential growth of the market, demonstrated by bigger and bigger "superliners."

The Grand Princess features a bridge that is wider than the wingspan of a Boeing 767 and is too fat to squeeze through the Panama Canal. In fact, the Pacific Princess, the original Love Boat that helped rejuvenate the image of cruising, "could fit neatly inside the [Grand Princess'] Horizon Court dining and lido areas," Princess Cruises said in a statement touting the amenities of its upcoming superliner.

In addition to private balconies on 80% of its outside staterooms, the Grand Princess will feature the first wedding chapel at sea, a virtual reality center, a jogging track and a nine-hole putting green with an option to simulate play on computerized versions of world-class golf courses.

The Grand Princess will sail the Mediterranean in spring and summer, then move to the Caribbean for fall and winter after a September debut in New York.

Nancy Rivera Brooks can be reached via e-mail at nancy.rivera.brooks

@latimes.com or by fax at (213) 237-7837.

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