Like all aspects of life, the global health crisis has had a significant impact on the cruising industry. With COVID-19 halting sailings back in March 2020, most major cruise lines have yet to resume sailing. With an entire year of cruising essentially gone, the cruise lines have been looking for ways to cut costs and financially stay afloat. Among the more noticeable money-saving maneuvers is selling or scrapping older vessels. In fact, 34 cruise ships were sold or scrapped in 2020, and the list continues to grow in 2021. We take a fond look back at all the ships we lost this past year due to the pandemic.
All the Cruise Ships Sold or Scrapped Due to the Pandemic
Royal Caribbean International
As the largest cruise line with 27 cruise ships scheduled to sail in 2020, many insiders had speculated the cruise line would shed some of its older ships. While the brand denied the rumors, there were reports that some ships had been sold over the summer. Well, on December 16th, Royal Caribbean International formally announced it had in fact sold two of its ships.
Majesty of the Seas
This 28-year-old vessel debuted in 1992 offering 4 and 5-day Caribbean sailings. As the final Sovereign-class ship, Majesty of the Seas was one of the largest vessels sailing at her maiden voyage. As of late, this 73,000 gross ton vessel was offering three and four-day Bahamas cruises.
With newer and more updated cruise ships offering similar itineraries, Majesty of the Seas’ days were numbered. We sailed on Majesty of the Seas back in 2017 and can attest the ship was dated.
Royal Caribbean sold the ship to an undisclosed buyer earlier this month.
Empress of the Seas
At 30 years old, Empress of the Seas was the oldest ship still sailing under Royal Caribbean’s flag. The ship returned to the fleet in 2016 offering short 4 and 5-day Caribbean itineraries. In fact, the cruise line invested a reported $50 million to improve the ship’s public spaces.
In 2017, Empress began offering Cuba cruises from Florida. This 48,000 gross ton ship could accommodate slightly over 1800 guests and was also the smallest vessel sailing in Royal Caribbean’s fleet. The name of the ship’s buyer is not known as of this writing.
Carnival Cruise Line
The family-friendly cruise line, Carnival Cruise Line, had 4 cruise ships sold or scrapped this past year due to the pandemic. These departures were part of the parent company’s plan to remove 18 ships across its nine brands.
The namesake vessel, Carnival Fantasy ushered in an all new cruise experience for Carnival Cruise Line. This 30-year-old vessel was over 70,000 gross tons and could carry over 2600 passengers at full capacity. The ship underwent several upgrades and refurbishments over the years. Along the way, the vessel received new public areas, restaurants, and amenities including Fun Ship 2.0 updates in 2016.
The ship also featured several homeports during her tenure, including Miami and Port Canaveral, FL; Mobile, AL; and New Orleans, LA. On July 23, 2020, it was announced that the ship was being scrapped.
Also on July 23rd, Carnival Cruise Line announced that Carnival Inspiration was being scrapped. Like other Fantasy-class vessels, this ship received updates, including restaurant, bars, and other amenities as part of the cruise line’s Fun Ship 2.0 refurbishments in 2016. Carnival Inspiration was a 70,000 gross-ton cruise ship with a maximum capacity of 2600 passengers.
The fourth ship in the Fantasy-class, this 70,000 gross ton ship spent over 25 years in service. Sailing mostly in the Caribbean, Fascination’s most recent homeport was San Juan, Puerto Rico offering Southern Caribbean sailings.
In the summer, the cruise line announced it was placing the ship in long term lay-up. However, on September 16th, Carnival revealed that the ship was sold to an Asian company with the hopes of utilizing it as an “accommodation vessel”.
Like Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination had been placed on long term lay-up back in July as well. Later, we learned the fate of the ship. It too was sold alongside Carnival Fascination.
This Fantasy-class ship first set sail in 1995. This 70,000 gross ton ship had a passenger capacity of 2,600 guests like its sister ships. More recently, the vessel was offering 3 and 4-day cruises to the Mexican Riviera from Long Beach, CA. Unfortunately, the Carnival Imagination was scrapped in a Turkish shipyard this summer.
It is unlikely that many have sailed on Peace Boat’s Ocean Dream since it set sail in 2012. Although, this historic cruise ship’s history is over 37 years old as it first debuted as Carnival Tropicale.
It was Carnival’s first ever new-build designed for cruise vacations. In fact, this 36,000 gross ton ship was the first to display the now signature fin-shaped funnel. The ship had no sister vessels but did set the foundation for future vessels in the fleet. Sadly, it was confirmed at the end of November that the vessel was one of the cruise ships sold or scrapped due to the pandemic.
Also in September 2020, we learned that Princess Cruises sold two of its older vessels, Sun Princess and Sea Princess. Then, 2021 brought the announcement of another ship being sold off from the brand.
Sun Princess was a 77,000 gross ton ship that first debuted in 1995. As the first of the line’s Sun-class, it was one of the largest ships at sea when it first set sail. The vessel gained notoriety as it appeared in the Love Boat: The Next Wave television show in the late 1990s.
More recently, the vessel was sailing in Australia and Asian markets. In fact, it was the first foreign ship to offer cruises specifically for the Japanese market. The Sun Princess will see new life as the Japanese cruise line NGO Peace Boat will be relaunching the ship as Pacific World in 2021.
Similarly, the second Sun-class ship, Sea Princess, was also a regular ship found sailing in Australia. The 22-year-old vessel also completed a few World Cruises for Princess, including the first to depart from Australia. According to the cruise line, the 77,000 gross ton ship had circled the global 35 times.
Just last month, it was disclosed that the vessel was sold to Sanya International Cruise Development and will resume sailing as Charming. It will become the second largest domestic cruise vessel sailing in China.
In addition, there have been several previous Princess Cruises cruise ships sold or scrapped due to the pandemic.
Pacific Princess is the latest ship to be sold to an undisclosed buyer due to the impacts of the pandemic. The sale of this ship is in line with Carnival Corporation’s plan to accelerate the removal of less efficient ships from its fleets.
Pacific Princess is a 30,000 gross ton ship that entered the Princess fleet in 2002, originally entering service in 1999 as R3 for Renaissance Cruises. The ship carried just 670 passengers visiting remote locations across the globe. Yet, she still featured many of the brand’s signature dining and entertainment options.
Pacific Princess sailed more than 1.6 million nautical miles and 11 World Cruises during her lifetime with the brand. World Cruise and exotic itineraries will continue onboard the MedallionClass-enabled Coral Princess and Island Princess.
In July, we learned that P&O Oceana, formerly Ocean Princess, was sold. This 77,500 gross ton vessel only sailed under the Princess Cruises’ flag for two years. Then, in 2002, it became part of the P&O Cruises’ fleet.
With the company’s merger with Carnival Corporation the following year, the ship continued to sail with the British-based cruise line. Due to the global pandemic, the ship was sold to Seajets and has been renamed Queen of the Oceans.
At the end of November, Indian cruise line, Jalesh, announced it was scrapping its vessel Karnika. While not familiar to many in the west, the vessel originally debuted in 1990 as the Crown Princess. The 69,000 gross ton vessel held just over 2,000 passengers and sailed for numerous cruise lines, including A’Rosa Cruises, Aida Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, and finally Jalesh Cruises starting in 2019. Unfortunately, the ship is being sold for scrap.
P&O Cruises Australia
Originally built for Holland America Line, this 55,800 gross ton ship first set sail as MS Ryndam. With a passenger capacity of just over 1,200 guests, the ship was one of the line’s S-class vessels. In 2014, the vessel was sold to P&O Cruises Australia. After an extensive drydock in the fall, the ship re-emerged as the Pacific Aria. The vessel was only with the cruise line for five years when it was announced in 2019 that the ship would be moving to CMV in 2020. However, due to that cruise line’s bankruptcy, P&O Cruises Australia revealed this October that Greek operator Seajets had purchased the 26 year-old ship instead. The ship’s new name is Aegean Goddess.
We learned in November that P&O Australia’s Pacific Dawn would be heading to the scrap yard as well. This 77,000 gross ton ship first sailed as the Regal Princess from 1991 to 2007. This sister ship to the Crown Princess has also served several cruise lines.
For the past 13 years though, it has been sailing with P&O Cruises Australia. Originally, the ship’s buyers were planning to utilize the ship as a “floating community”. However, it was later announced that the ship would be scrapped.
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration
At the beginning of the pandemic, small cruise operator Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line was optimistic about returning to service once the CDC lifted the No Sail Order. Alas, the cruise line announced in November that it was scrapping one of its two cruise ships due to COVID-19.
The Grand Celebration first debuted as Carnival Celebration way back in 1987. The last of the line’s Holiday-class, the 47,000 gross ton ship had a passenger capacity of just under 1,500.
It was acquired by Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line in 2015. Since then, it has been offering two-day cruises to the Bahamas from the line’s Palm Beach, FL homeport. The cruise line is looking to focus sailings on its remaining ship, Grand Classica, once cruising resumes in 2021.
British-based cruise line, Marella Cruises, also announced that two of its cruise ships were being scrapped due to the pandemic.
Marella Celebration was one of the first cruise ships to be impacted by the pandemic. On April 29, 2020, the cruise line announced that the 36-year-old vessel was going to be retired. The 33,000 gross ton ship had served in several fleets during its tenure. The ship was part of Holland America Line, TUI Cruises, and finally Marella Cruises since 2017.
Another 30+ year old ship, Marella Cruises announced that the ship was leaving the fleet in October 2020. While the cruise line has been mum on the ship’s fate, some online industry reports suggest the ship has been sold for scrap due to the pandemic. This 42,000 gross ton ship had a passenger capacity of slightly more than 1,100 passengers. During its lifetime, the ship was part of several different fleets as well including Holland America Line and Costa Cruises.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
In August 2020, we learned that this cruise line was retiring two vessels. These departures were to make room for two newer and larger vessels. Later, it was revealed that these vessels were sold to other operators who have plans to use the vessels as floating accommodations.
This 48-year-old vessel has been all over the world as a member of several different cruise lines. The 21,000 gross ton ship was originally built for the Royal Viking Line as the Royal Viking Star. When the ship debuted in 1972, it was heralded as one of the most luxurious cruise ships afloat. During the 1980s, the ship received upgrades, including being lengthened by 91 feet. Later, the ship became a member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet. It finally entered service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in 1996.
Similarly, Fred. Olsen’s Boudicca started its life in 1973 as the Royal Viking Sky. The ship was a sister ship of the Royal Viking Star. Nearly identical in design and size, the ship offered luxury cruises from ports all around the world. Like its sister ship, it also had a brief stint in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet, as well as Star Cruises and Princess Cruises. Fred Olsen acquired the ship in 2005. Even a major drydock in 2018 could not spare this vessel from being sold due to the pandemic.
As part of the Carnival Corporation, Costa Cruises was among one of the first cruise lines to announce its ships were being sold or scrapped due to the pandemic.
As one of the younger vessels to be impacted by the cruise suspension, Costa Victoria first entered service in 1996. The 75,000 gross ton ship was built specifically for Costa Cruises. The ship’s design was intended to reflect “the spirit of Italy”. The ship spent its entire time in service for Costa Cruises. The vessel even underwent a major refurbishment in 2004 and another update in 2013. The most recent updates included the addition of balconies to hundreds of staterooms.
Unfortunately, during the early days of the pandemic, a handful of COVID-19 cases were linked to the vessel. In June of this year, Costa Cruises indicated the ship was being scrapped.
Another vessel built for Costa Cruises, Costa neoRomantica entered service for the cruise line in 1993. At its launch, the sister ship to Costa neoClassical tipped the scales at 53,000 gross tons. In 2011, the ship received a major overhaul, with the addition of two new decks, cabins, and upgrades to the public spaces. This increased its overall size by 3,000 gross tons and increased the ship’s capacity to over 1800 guests. In the process, the ship was renamed Costa neoRomantica.
Even though the ship was sold, not all this additional work will go to waste. In August, the ship was sold to Celestyal Cruises who renamed the ship Celestyal Experience. The ship is expected to begin 7 and 14-night cruises from Athens later in 2021.
Holland America Line
Holland America Line announced in July that it was shedding 4 ships in its fleet. Among the vessels leaving the fleet were several popular ships that offered cruises in various regions of the world.
The fourth ship in the R-class, the MS Amsterdam joined Holland America Line in 2000. It was the third ship to bear this name in Holland America Line’s history. Serving as the co-flagship with its sister ship, MS Rotterdam, the vessel contained many of the same design elements. Yet, it introduced other elements of future ships in the class such as a larger aft pool on the lido deck. While the ship will be leaving Holland America Line, it will be sailing in Europe as Bolette for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
The first of its class, MS Rotterdam joined Holland America Line in 1997. This new build was the sixth ship in the cruise line’s storied history to bear the name. At 61,800 tons, the ship could hold over 1400 guests and was the co-flagship with MS Amsterdam. Among its signature features was an impressive art collection worth millions of dollars. However, due to the pandemic, the ship was sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. Currently, the ship is scheduled to set sail as the Borealis.
Not all is lost though, as the cruise line announced that its newest vessel, the third Pinnacle-class ship, will bear the name MS Rotterdam when it debuts in July.
The second vessel in the S-class, this ship set sail for Holland America Line in 1993. At 55,500 gross tons, the vessel had a passenger capacity of over 1,200. During its 27-year history with the cruise line, the ship offered cruises to various regions including Alaska and South America. The ship’s interior and design paid homage to the company’s Dutch roots. It was the fourth ship in HAL’s history to bear the name. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ship was sold to an undisclosed buyer and renamed Aegean Myth. Reports suggest that the ship might see new life offering cruises in Greece.
Delivered in 1996, MS Veendam was the fourth ship in the Holland America Line history to bear this name. The 57,000 gross ton vessel had a passenger capacity of 1,350 guests. During its time with Holland America Line, the vessel offered Caribbean cruises. Also, the ship frequently engaged in longer itineraries in regions such as the British Isles, Mediterranean, the Baltics, and Norway.
Similar in design to its sister ship MS Maasdam, the vessel was also sold to an undisclosed buyer this past summer. Current reports indicate that the ship has been renamed the Aegean Majesty. It is possible the cruise ship will begin offering cruises for the Greek market as well.
Back in June 2020, Royal Caribbean Group announced that Spanish cruise line Pullmantur was filing for bankruptcy. However, January 2021 delivered more surprising cruise news. We just learned that Royal Caribbean Group announced the sale of its boutique luxury cruise brand, Azamara Cruises. The private equity firm, Sycamore Partners, purchased the cruise line and its fleet of 3 ships for $201 million in cash.
Though, it does not appear that the cruise line will be disappearing. According to a joint statement from Royal Caribbean and Sycamore Partners, the equity firm plans to offer cruises and keep the cruise line afloat once cruising resumes.
The brand’s ships include Azamara Quest, Journey, and Pursuit. These boutique ships are around 30K gross tons and carry around 700 passengers. Azamara Journey was built in 2000 for Renaissance Cruises as R Six and has been sailing in the Azamara fleet since 2007. Azamara Quest was built in 2000 for Renaissance Cruises as R Seven and has also been under the Azamara flag since 2007. Finally, Azamara Pursuit was built in 2001 and has been with Azamara since 2018.
Cruise and Maritime Voyages
The cruise line Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) was a privately-owned cruise line that offered a variety of short cruises. The cruise line even had plans to acquire additional vessels in 2020 to expand its fleet. Sadly, this company’s balance sheet was not able to handle the onslaught of cancellations due to the pandemic. On July 22nd, the cruise line was placed into administration in the UK. This meant that is fleet of six ships were put on the auction block.
The oldest cruise liner still in service, MV Astoria was first launched by Swedish American Line in 1948. With a traditional style, this 12,000 gross ton passenger ship was one of the smallest cruise liners offering North Atlantic routes. The vessel has been a member of 10 different fleets. In 2015, CMV acquired the cruise ship. Its history and classic design was a perfect fit for the cruise line. Sadly, with the cruise line being placed in administration, the ship is currently laid-up in preparation for being scrapped.
This 63,500 gross ton ship had a total passenger count of 1,865 at full capacity. Originally designed for another cruise line, it became part of Princess Cruises’ fleet when it set sail in 1989. Sailing as the Star Princess, the Columbus was also part of other fleets including P&O Cruises Australia, P&O Cruises, and finally CMV in 2017.
For a ship of its size, if featured a number of public areas, entertainment venues, and restaurants. The ship was put up for auction in October and is currently owned by Seajets. This Greek ferry company has not commented on whether the ship will be put into service like other purchases.
This 33-year-old ship was 20,700 gross tons. The vessel had several owners before reaching CMV in 2013. With a total passenger capacity of 650, the ship fit into the cruise line’s laid-back style of cruising with a more classic and traditional cruise experience. The ship went to auction in October 2020 and was purchased by a scrap broker. The ship will be dismantled in a Turkish scrapyard.
Another one of the oldest ships afloat, this vessel first launched in 1965! This 55-year-old vessel was a total of 19,800 gross tons with a guest capacity of 650. For the time, the ship had a few new features not typically found on cruise liners. These amenities included a swimming pool with a sliding glass roof and outside accommodations for guests and crew.
Originally built for a Soviet Union shipping company, the vessel also contained an extra-large provision area and enforced hull strength for breaking ice. The vessel became part of the CMV fleet in 2010. The vessel was sold at auction in October 2020 and will be scrapped.
Originally built in 1985, this vessel began its life as a Holiday-class ship with Carnival Cruise Line. For 14 years, the 46,000 gross ton vessel ushered 1,400 passengers around stops in the Caribbean until it was retired from the fleet. CMV acquired the ship in 2015. The vessel had undergone several drydocks and upgrades during its career, but it never lost the signature Carnival fin smoke stack. The ship was auctioned off with its current fate unknown.
Vasco de Gama
This vessel was part of CMV’s fleet for just over a year. Although, the 27-year-old ship has been around for quite some time. Originally built for Holland America Line as the MS Statendam, it was the hallmark vessel in the cruise line’s S-class. The vessel went through a series of dry docks in 2006 and 2011 with Holland America. Later, it was transferred to P&O Cruises Australia before joining CMV in 2019. At 55,400 gross tons, it was the second largest ship sailing with CMV, with a passenger capacity of 1,200 guests.
Once a subsidiary of the Royal Caribbean Group, Pullmantur was the first cruise line to file bankruptcy due to the the pandemic. The Spanish cruise line filed for insolvency in June 2020. With that filing, the cruise line’s fleet of three ships were sold as part of the company’s reorganization.
Sovereign of the Seas was the largest cruise ship when it set sail in 1988. A revolutionary vessel at the time, it came equipped with a complete sports deck, several dining venues, and shops. Many of these elements are now common features found on Royal Caribbean ships. At 73,000 gross tons and a passenger capacity of 2,850, the ship offered cruises to the Caribbean and Bahamas. In 2004, the ship went through a major refurbishment. By 2008, it was transferred to Pullmantur and remained in service until being scrapped this summer due to the pandemic.
Originally launched in 1990, this ship started its cruising life as Horizon for Celebrity Cruises. The 46,800 gross ton ship had a passenger capacity of 1800 guests. Over its 30 years of sailing, it was a member of several fleets, including the now defunct Island Star, as well as two stints with Pullmantur. The ship returned to the Spanish cruise line in 2017. Alas, this summer, Royal Caribbean Group’s CFO confirmed that Horizon would be scrapped.
A sister ship to Sovereign of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas was originally designed for and sailed under the Royal Caribbean International flag. Setting sail in 1991, the nearly 74,000 gross ton vessel offered cruises to the Caribbean and the Bahamas. The ship underwent several updates and refurbs, including one in 2013 before being transferred to Pullmantur. The ship remained in the Spanish cruise line’s fleet until being scrapped this summer.
Saga Cruises’ Saga Sapphire
This 38-year-old ship was built for Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and set sail in 1982. At 37,300 gross tons, the ship has a capacity of 1150 guests. After serving as a member of several cruise lines’ fleets including Star Cruises and Pullmantur, it was sold to Saga Cruises in 2011. Before entering service, the ship underwent an extensive refurbishment adding balcony rooms, as well as updating its dining facilities and some entertainment venues.
This vessel sailed for 9 years with the Saga fleet before it was sold to ANEX Tours. While this sale was delayed due to the pandemic, it officially left the Saga Cruises’ fleet in June 2020. This makes it one of the first cruise ships to be sold or scrapped due to the pandemic.
Have you sailed on any of the cruise ships sold or scrapped due to the pandemic? Do you think more vessels will be put out of commission because of COVID-19? Drop us an anchor below with your thoughts on the impacts to the cruise industry in 2020.