Royal Caribbean's Empress of the Seas is the first ship to be transferred to Pullmantur, the Spain-based cruise and tour operator it acquired last year. But you have another year (or so) to say goodbye: the ship will depart Royal Caribbean's fleet on March 7, 2008.
If you've already booked a cruise past that date, Royal Caribbean's release says its representatives will contact you. As well, the company has established contact numbers for travel agents and consumers who have questions; call 888-281-9344.
More details on how the ship will be transformed once it's officially transferred to Pullmantur were not revealed.
As you may recall, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited -- owner of Celebrity Cruises as well as Royal Caribbean International -- acquired Pullmantur last November as part of its strategy to expand into Europe. Pullmantur, founded in 1971, is the largest cruise operator in Spain. It has two primary business interests: cruises and tour operations. Its cruise division consists of five ships operating in Europe and Latin America. The fleet included -- at least at the time of RCCL's acquisition -- two former Renaissance R-series ships and the one-time Pacific Princess, which you may remember from the TV series "The Love Boat."
Royal Caribbean already has swapped some ships. The two Renaissance R-class ships will head over to this side of the Atlantic where they will undergo refurbishments before being transformed into Celebrity Journey and Celebrity Quest; both will re-launch this year. In turn, Celebrity Zenith will be sent over to Pullmantur this spring. It sails its last cruise as Zenith on April 13.