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Stanley McDonald, founder of Princess Cruises, dies at 94

Stanley B. McDonald developed his business sense at a young age. He had a paper route at 12, started cleaning planes in exchange for rides in the aircraft at age 13, then started installing drapes for a furniture company when he was 14.

He started many companies over the years, his first while in his 20s. But he is best known for starting Princess Cruises, which sprang out of the need for more hotel rooms during the Seattle World's Fair in 1962.

"He was really an entrepreneur from the beginning," said his daughter, Laurie McDonald Jonsson. "He loved creating new things and working on new ideas."

McDonald died Nov. 20 in his Bellevue, Washington, home on the shores of Lake Washington. His family said he had recently been ill with pneumonia. He was 94.

Born in Alberta, Canada, in 1920, McDonald grew up in Yakima, Washington. He moved to Seattle for high school, and attended the University of Washington from 1938 to 1943. He enlisted in the Navy and was trained as a pilot during World War II, but not before marrying his sweetheart, Barbara, in 1944.

When the World's Fair committee started planning in 1960, it became clear Seattle did not have the hotel space needed, McDonald's older brother Lamont said. McDonald had the idea of bringing a ship to Seattle to house people, and then decided to include a cruise from California to Victoria, British Columbia.

He had no idea it would turn into a successful cruise line or land him the title "The King of Cruise," which McDonald titled his self-published memoir in 2011.

His idea was the start of Princess Cruises, which he founded in 1964.

"The hardest thing was getting people to understand what a cruise was all about. Today, it is common knowledge," McDonald said in a 2005 interview published by Princess Cruises.

McDonald sold Princess Cruises to Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co. in 1974. It is now owned by Carnival Cruise Lines.

He stayed on as chief executive of Princess until 1980.

After McDonald stepped down from Princess, he and Jonsson, his daughter, started another cruise company, Sundance Cruises, which eventually merged and became part of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.

"Dad used to take hundreds and hundreds of friends on cruises . . . We'd get these groups of relatives and friends and go to Australia or China. People just loved traveling with him," Jonsson said.

During his years with Princess, McDonald was part of a decision to film the TV show "The Love Boat" on his ships. Filming started in 1976 and the show aired until 1987.

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