July 3, 2020
(Updated 1:19 p.m. EDT) -- Faced with declining revenues and a lack of passengers during the global COVID-10 pandmeic, some cruise lines are taking an unpopular but necessary step: Selling off older vessels for scrap.
Most modern cruise ships have service lives of 40 years or more. While it is not uncommon to see cruise ships built in the 1970's and 1980's go to the breakers, older vessels are usually transferred first to another, smaller cruise operator -- a market that is often referred to as "secondhand tonnage."
It's more unusual is to see relatively young vessels head to the breakers. Yet that is precisely what is beginning to happen, due to the coronavirus pandemic. On June 25, Francesco Ferrari, mayor of Piombino, Italy revealed that Costa Cruises' Costa Victoria, built in 1996, had arrived in the city for demolition.
Because cruisers can form strong attachments to their ships, Cruise Critic is not speculating on which ships could be retired or scrapped in the future months to come. Instead, only confirmed fleet departures will be posted here as they are announced.
Costa Victoria (1996-2020)
What Made It Special: Costa Victoria was one of Costa's most distinctive vessels. Built in 1996 at the Bremer Vulkan yards in Germany, it was easily distinguished by its banks of windows at the front of the ship that gave way to a multi-story observation lounge. It was to have had a sister-ship named Costa Olympia; instead, that vessel became Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky. On June 23, Costa Victoria arrived in Piombino, Italy for scrapping after being purchased by Genova Trasporti Marittimi.
"Costa Crociere confirms that the ownership of Costa Victoria has been transferred to a subsidiary of Genoese company San Giorgio del Porto," reads a statement from Costa Cruises sent to Cruise Critic, while not directly confirming the ship's fate. "Costa will be informing guests booked on the next Costa Victoria cruises, who will be guaranteed a re-protection in accordance with the applicable legislation.”
What Made It Special: Horizon was constructed in 1990 as the first of two nearly identical newbuilds for Celebrity Cruises. Though somewhat angular in appearance, the ship was noted for its superb interiors and unique reception area concept, which featured over-height ceilings and ran along the centerline of the ship.
Horizon was removed from the Celebrity Cruises fleet in 2005 and was passed around to various operators before landing with Pullmantur in 2017. Following the collapse of Pullmantur in June, the ship's fate is decidedly uncertain. While there are no rumours that the ship has been stripped of its interior fittings like Monarch and Sovereign (see below), it seems highly unlikely that this vessel will return to service.
Marella Celebration (1984-????)
What Made It Special: Originally built as Holland America Line's Noordam before being transferred to Thomson/Marella Cruises in 2005, one thing that remained constant about Marella Celebration was how beloved it was. Though lacking in balcony cabins and reflective of an entirely different design of cruise vessel, the ship's old-world charm, open public areas and broad teak decks were enough to make even the most jaded cruiser overlook its shortcomings that included some pretty wicked vibration in cabins near the stern.
In April, Marella announced that it would immediately remove Marella Celebration from service. TUI Group, which owns Marella, would not comment at the time on whether the ship would be sold to another line or sent to the breakers. Given that Marella Celebration's sister-ship, Marella Spirit was scrapped in 2018, the future does not look good for this graceful vessel.
What Made It Special: Monarch began life as Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas in 1991 before being transferred to Spanish subsidiary Pullmantur in 2013. The second of Royal Caribbean's three-ship Sovereign class, Monarch was, for a time, one of the most trendsetting ships on the seas.
Pullmantur filed for bankruptcy protection in June as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monarch, together with older sister Sovereign, were reportedly stripped of their interior fittings and artwork in Genoa. The ship is currently sailing the Mediterranean and will reportedly be sent to the breakers soon.
What Made It Special: Sovereign was built in 1988 as Royal Caribbean's Sovereign of the Seas. The largest new purpose-built cruise ship at the time, Sovereign ushered in the concept of the multi-story atrium flanked with glass elevators that would become a staple of the Royal Caribbean fleet for decades.
Sovereign of the Seas was transferred to Pullmantur in November of 2008 and embarked on its first voyage for the line in the spring of 2009. Like Monarch, it was stripped of all valuable fittings in Genoa in June 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and is reportedly on the way to be broken up.
The sole remaining Sovereign-class ship, Majesty of the Seas, still sails for Royal Caribbean.
Cruise Critic will update this article as more details become available.