Cruise Industry Heroes: Stanley McDonald


Following last month’s post about Cunard founder, Sir Samuel Cunard, we are continuing our series about the heroes and forefathers of the cruise industry. This month we feature a man who was born almost 150 years after Cunard, but still went on to have a huge impact on the industry, founding Princess Cruises.

Notable Achievements

Before entering into the cruise industry, Stanley McDonald was already a successful businessman, having founded Air Mac, a material handling business. It was through this enterprise that McDonald got his first taste for cruising. Air Mac was responsible for providing the ground transportation for the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle.

As there were insufficient hotel rooms for all the guests of the World’s Fair, McDonald decided to charter a number of cruise ships to provide accommodation for the guests and transport to the event. Seeing how much his guests enjoyed the experience aboard the ship, McDonald decided to buy a cruise ship – Princess Patricia.

Princess Patricia - Rob

The Princess Patricia was chartered from Canadian Pacific, and it was from this ship that the name Princess Cruises was born with all vessels featuring ‘Princess’ in their name.

McDonald’s ownership of Princess Cruises was relatively short-lived, selling the ten year old business to P&O in 1975. However, he did remain the chairman of the cruise line until 1980.


Stanley McDonald was born in Alberta, Canada in 1920 but moved to the US to be educated at Roosevelt High School in Seattle and the University of Washington. McDonald then joined the US Navy Air Corps and served in WWII, after which he founded the aforementioned Air Mac which helped introduce him to the world of cruising.

Upon launching Princess Cruises, McDonald planned to develop the winter cruising market which was limited at best. By touring the Mexican coast during the colder months, he was able to help Northern Hemisphere guests enjoy a spot of winter sun.

Princess Cays - Flickr Source@Derek Hatfield

After selling Princess Cruises in 1975 and leaving his post as chairman in 1980, McDonald continued to develop new businesses. In 1977, he was part of a consortium which purchased the real estate assets of the Chrysler Corporation and formed a real estate business, Stellar International.

Married to Barbara in 1944, the founder of Princess Cruises went on to have a son and a daughter. McDonald died at the ripe old age of 94 in November 2014.


Undoubtedly, Stanley McDonald is most commonly remembered as the founder of Princess Cruises and one of the forefathers of the cruise industry. Furthermore, McDonald’s decision to target the Mexican coast, which was subsequently nicknamed The Mexican Riviera, helped develop the winter cruise industry.

With many of the fleet’s vessels serving as the setting for famous US sitcom, The Love Boat, Princess Cruises significantly contributed to the growth of the cruise industry.

So if you’d like to celebrate the life and influence of Stanley McDonald with a Princess Cruises holiday, Cruise1st are proud to offer a huge selection of great deals. For a full selection of these deals, please visit our homepage or call us today on 0808 2746 777.

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: Rob, Raging Wire, Derek Hatfield


About Author

Claire has worked in the travel industry since leaving college in 1994. One of this blog's most regular contributors, Claire covers cruise news and industry trends.

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