First-Ever Cruise to Support U.S. Veterans Sets Sail

Special Princess Cruises Sailing to Honor U.S. Veterans and Raise Funds for Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and Operation Homefront
Nov 5, 2013 1:15 PM ET

November 5, 2013 /3BL Media/ - Princess Cruises’ first-ever “Cruising for a Cause” voyage sets sail from Houston today on a cruise to honor veterans and raise funds for two respected veterans’ organizations - Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund Inc. and Operation Homefront Inc. The first-of-its-kind voyage features an impressive line-up of special guests aboard Caribbean Princess.

The cruise will offer passengers the opportunity to honor those who have served in the military as well as active duty military personnel. Passengers onboard will hear from special guests including retired senior officers from the Army, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Air Force; an award-winning war correspondent; and other respected speakers, authors and panelists.

Princess President and CEO Alan Buckelew, a Vietnam veteran himself, will be onboard to host the cruise. He will be joined by special guests including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, USN (Ret.), former Army Chief of Staff General George Casey (Ret.), former Commandant, U.S. Marine CorpsGeneral James T. Conway (Ret.), former Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard Admiral James Loy (Ret.), former Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz (Ret.), and former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Gary Roughead (Ret.), who will each host military branch gatherings throughout the voyage.

The senior officers’ spouses, Deborah Mullen, Sheila Casey, Kay Loy, Suzie Schwartz, Ellen Roughead, and Lt. Col. Bill Keller, USAF (Ret.) – husband of Major General Suzanne Vautrinot, USAF– will take part in a panel discussion centered on the lives of military families and the changing roles and challenges of spouses before, during and after deployment.

In addition, guest lecturers on the cruise will include:

  • Award-winning journalist and decorated combat correspondent Joe Galloway. He is one of America’s premier war and foreign news reporters. A former military affairs consultant for Knight-Ridder newspapers and co-author of We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, Galloway reported for UPI during the Vietnam War. He was awarded the Bronze Star for carrying wounded soldiers to safety during the 1965 battle at la Drang. He will be joined by Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bruce Crandall for a presentation of “Reflections from the Battle of la Drang and Beyond.”
  • Speaker and veterans’ advocate Justin Constantine. Constantine joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 1998 after graduating from law school. He left active duty in 2004, but two years later, as a Marine Reservist, volunteered for deployment to Iraq. While on a routine patrol, he was seriously wounded – shot in the head by a sniper. Thanks to the heroic efforts of a young Navy corpsman and his own warrior spirit, Constantine is alive today and as a highly sought-after speaker and veteran’s advocate, spreading a message of awareness, courage and resiliency.
  • The soldier who sent the message ending World War II in Europe, Gregory Melikian. As a young sergeant with the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces staff headquartered in France in 1945, Melikian was a telegraph operator under command of General Dwight D. Eisenhower. At 3:30 p.m. on May 7, 1945, it was Melikian who was chosen to announce the unconditional surrender of Germany and the end of WWII in Europe.
  • The cyber side of the military will be the focus of a presentation by Major General Suzanne “Zan” Vautrinot, USAF (Ret), who commanded the Air Force's component that provides combatant commanders with trained and ready cyber forces.

Passengers will enjoy an evening performance with Jari Villanueva, a retired Air Force bugler from Arlington National Cemetery, who is a foremost authority on Taps and other U.S. military bugle calls. Country singer Rockie Lynne will be a featured performer during the sailing. Lynne, a veteran himself who frequently supports military causes, will perform with his five-piece band as headliners in the ship’s Princess Theater, and will also offer an up-close performance in Club Fusion.

Throughout the voyage, representatives from the Veterans History Project will be onboard to assist veterans interested in working with families and friends to record personal accounts of their service experience for preservation with the Library of Congress.

In addition to the line-up of impressive military guests, speakers, and special performers, the cruise will feature unique topic panels, a veterans fundraising walk on deck, and a military film festival. Princess will offer onboard activities such as a Stars and Stripes Sailaway, a Red, White and Blue Gala, and more – to celebrate U.S. veterans.

A portion of each passenger’s cruise fare from $100 to $300, depending on stateroom category, will be matched by Princess Cruises and donated equally to the two veterans’ organizations.

The cruise launches Princess Cruises’ new “Cruising for a Cause” initiative where the company will dedicate entire sailings to support select charitable causes. This new, industry-leading program will provide the line’s passengers, many of whom are looking for opportunities to make positive contributions to their communities and the world, a way to make a difference even as they vacation.

More information about “Cruising for a Cause” sailings can be found by clicking here or by calling 1-800-PRINCESS.