Princess Cruises homeports in Santa Clarita

first_imgSANTA CLARITA – There’s a mini-city within the walls of Santa Clarita’s fastest-growing business. Princess Cruises, based well inland yet serving up luxury on the high seas, has departments ranging from entertainment to interior design, food and beverage to distribution. “We have this incredible array of professions here,” spokeswoman Julie Benson said. Among 1,800 employees housed in seven buildings in Valencia, there are lawyers and accountants, retail buyers, dancers, art and jewelry experts, doctors, nurses, photographers and videographers. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsOn a recent workday, a team of executives gathered in the conference room to strategize about the faux snow that will fall on ships this holiday season. “One day we meet about snow; one day we talk about ship launches,” Benson said. “It’s all planned from here, along with everything that goes on aboard our ships.” A familiar face at the Princess Cruises’ Town Center Drive headquarters is company ambassador Gavin MacLeod, the actor who portrayed Capt. Merrill Stubing on TV’s “The Love Boat.” The Saturday night iconic romantic comedy was set aboard the Pacific Princess, one of the company’s first ships, which has since been sold to an Italian cruise company. While most of the 249 episodes of “The Love Boat” were filmed on Hollywood soundstages, the cast spent six weeks each season on the high seas. And MacLeod loved it. Location shots for the first several seasons were filmed in Mexican ports. But toward the end of the show’s nine-year run, Capt. Stubing, Doc (Bernie Kopell), Isaac (Ted Lange), Julie (Lauren Tewes, who left the show in 1984), Gopher (Fred Grandy, who later was a congressman from Iowa) and the captain’s daughter, Vicki (Jill Whelan), sailed to Europe, Russia and China. Soon after the show ended in 1986 – with the captain’s marriage to a character portrayed by Marion Ross of “Happy Days” fame – MacLeod and his real-life wife, Patti, were vacationing in Cape Cod. He got a call from the cruise line’s public-relations department and began a second career as Princess company ambassador. One duty was taking the final voyage of the Pacific Princess before it was sold, a journey that drew travelers with stories to tell. “So many people wanted to be on it – people who met on the ship and got married,” he said. Over the years, he has taped commercials for Princess, performed the play “Love Letters” aboard with his wife and – last Mother’s Day – christened the Emerald Princess in Greece with Ross as a guest. “I’ve seen Princess evolve from a company with two little ships,” he said. “It’s been great for me because it’s so wonderful to represent a business that makes people happy, that gives them things to talk about, expands their horizons.” Established in 1965, Princess Cruises was lured from Century City to Santa Clarita in 1998 with a 15-year guarantee there would be no business tax. For the past two years, Santa Clarita has been named one of Southern California’s most business-friendly cities by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp., in large part because there is no business-license fee. Operations began with customer service. Hundreds of employees work the phones, booking cruises and customers’ related airline and hotel reservations. This year, Princess saw the largest gain in employment – 250 new jobs – of any company in Santa Clarita, according to a survey by Santa Barbara-based The California Economic Forecast. Princess is the area’s largest private employer. The headquarters, along pedestrian-oriented Town Center Drive that feeds the adjacent mall, helped establish a job base for a surrounding collection of apartments and condominiums, creating a downtown feeling in the ultimate suburb. Princess has since sprawled into three more Town Center buildings, including one that, since 2004, has housed its sister Cunard. In 1999, the company ran five ships; today, including Cunard’s luxury liners, there are 18. Cunard, the company’s high-end brand, operates the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth 2, and on Friday it will launch the Queen Victoria. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more