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Which Cruise Ships Will Be Scrapped Or Taken Out of Service Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Marella Celebration Pool

Which Cruise Ships Will Be Scrapped Or Taken Out of Service Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Which Cruise Ships Will Be Scrapped Or Taken Out of Service Because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?
Marella Celebration Pool

November 27, 2020

Aaron Saunders
Contributor
By Aaron Saunders
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(Updated 11:40 a.m. EST) -- Faced with declining revenues and a lack of passengers during the global COVID-10 pandemic, 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. 
On July 10, Carnival Corporation stated that 13 ships would be sold off and removed from service. Carnival further announced July 23 that two Fantasy Class ships had been sold, and another two were placed in long-term layup with no plans to rejoin the fleet.
With the collapse of UK cruise operator CMV and cruise lines looking to trim operational costs, it is not unrealistic to expect more vessels to be scrapped -- or "recycled", as some lines call it -- in the coming weeks and months.
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.

Astor (1987-2020)

Astor TA Listings Page Image
What Made It Special:
Sporting one of cruising's most unique profiles, Astor was built in 1987 for Safmarine before the contract was sold to the Marlan Corporation. The ship was then renamed Feodor Dostoevskiy for Transocean Tours between 1988 and 1995 before regaining its original name from 1995 onward.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages acquired the ship in 2013 where it sailed a wide array of itineraries. If it looks similar to another ship regularly based in the UK, that's because the ship was built to almost mirror the Astor of 1981, which most recently sailed as Saga Pearl II for Saga Cruises. That vessel also began life as an order for South Africa-based Safmarine.
Sadly, Astor was sold for just $1.7 million at auction, and was beached in Turkey on November 24, 2020 for scrapping.

Black Watch (1971-2020)

Black Watch
What Made It Special:
Black Watch began life in 1971 as Royal Viking Star, the lead vessel for the much-beloved Royal Viking Line. An upscale ship, it was one of the most modern cruise vessels in the world when it first set sail, and was lengthened by 91 feet in 1981.
The ship transferred to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1991 and sailed for a period of time as Westward. In 1994, it became Royal Cruise Line's Royal Odyssey before being acquired by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in 1996 and renamed Black Watch.
Black Watch was noted for its wide, open decks, abundance of public areas; and its unique itineraries. With the ship being retired from the Fred. Olsen fleet, the future for this 49-year old vessel looks increasingly uncertain.

Boudicca (1973-2020)

Boudicca
What Made It Special:
Like Black Watch, sister-ship Boudicca also began life with Royal Viking Line, setting sail in 1973 as Royal Viking Sky. It also sailed with Norwegian Cruise Line for a brief period of time between 1991 and 1993 as its Sunward. Between 1993 and 1997, it also sailed for Princess Cruises as Golden Princess.
The ship then served short stints with a succession of owners before being acquired by Fred. Olsen and setting sail as Boudicca in 2005. Boudicca seemed the more "modern" of the two, thanks to a series of upgrades to the vessel's interiors spaces and passenger cabins that occurred at the Blohm + Voss shipyards in Hamburg in 2018.
After being retired from the Fred. Olsen fleet, it is unlikely that the 47-year-old Boudicca will embark on further cruises for any line.

Carnival Fantasy (1990-2020)

Carnival Fantasy (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)
What Made It Special: Carnival Fantasy was revolutionary when it first debuted in 1990. It was the lead ship in Carnival's eight-vessel strong Fantasy Class that would be introduced from 1990 to 1998, becoming the largest group of passenger ships built to the same specifications at the time. Its whimsical Joe Farcus-designed interiors were wild, bright, and vibrant, and wholly unique from Carnival Fantasy's later sisters. The ship helped to spark a newbuild competition with competitor Royal Caribbean that continued until recently.
Homeported from Mobile for the last decade, Carnival Fantasy was due to be replaced by Carnival Fascination in 2022. After the COVID-19 pandemic, Carnival Fantasy was sent in early July to Curacao where major fittings and fixtures were removed.
Carnival confirmed on July 23 that the ship had been sold, and the ship arrived in Aliaga, Turkey shortly thereafter for scrapping. By late-August, the first cuts were being made to Carnival Fantasy's bow.

Carnival Fascination (1994-2020)

Carnival Fascination (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)
What Made It Special: Launched in 1994, Carnival Fascination was the fourth of eight Fantasy Class ships to debut. Designed by Joe Farcus, the ship's interiors recall the grand days of Hollywood, with public rooms like the Beverly Hills Bar named accordingly.
Originally based out of New York, the ship has had a number of homeports over the intervening 26 years. Most recently, the ship was based out of San Juan, and was due to replace Carnival Fantasy out of Mobile in 2022 prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
On July 23, Carnival announced that Carnival Fascination, along with Carnival Imagination, would be withdrawn from service and placed in long-term layup. It is unlikely the ship will rejoin the fleet. Carnival Imagination made its way to the breakers on August 26; Carnival Fascination continues to languish dockside in Cadiz, Spain, where it has been moored since July.

Carnival Imagination (1995-2020)

Carnival Imagination (Photo: Carnival Cruise Line)
What Made It Special: Based out of Long Beach in recent years, Carnival Imagination was one of the few Fantasy Class vessels to not have been refitted with additional exterior balcony cabins. Like the rest of the Fantasy Class, its iconic interiors were designed by longtime Carnival architect Joe Farcus, who gave Imagination's public spaces their over-the-top look.
Carnival Cruise Lines announced July 23 that the 1995-built Carnival Imagination would be placed in long-term layup, with no immediate plans for it to re-enter the fleet. On August 26, the ship officially embarked on its last journey, sailing from Willemstad, Curacao, to Aliaga, Turkey, where it will be broken up.

Carnival Inspiration (1996-2020)

Carnival Inspiration TA Listings Page Image
What Made It Special: The sixth vessel in Carnival's Fantasy Class, Carnival Inspiration brought more of the same whimsical Carnival fun to the line, wrapped up in longtime interior designer Joe Farcus' sometimes wacky interior decor. Carnival Inspiration, at the time the latest in the line's class of "SuperLiners", brought Art Nouveau touches to public rooms like the Paris Lounge, while the Rhapsody in Blue piano bar offered ebony and stone panelling offset by aqua accents. It was, and still is, one of the more sumptuously-decorated FunShips.
Based out of Long Beach, Carnival Inspiration was docked alongside Carnival Fantasy in Curacao in July, where fittings were removed. The ship arrived in early August at Aliaga, Turkey and was beached alongside sister Carnival Fantasy and former competitor Sovereign.

Columbus (1988-2020)

Columbus
What Made It Specia: Columbus started life as an order for Sitmar Cruises that was converted into a newbuild for Princess Cruises after the latter swallowed up Sitmar in the late 1980's. Christened Star Princess, the ship was notable for its distinctive circular "dome" situated above the navigation bridge.
Star Princess went on to serve a stint with P&O UK, sailing as Arcadia between 1997 and 2003. It then went on to become the lead ship for budget-oriented (and now defunct) Ocean Village cruises before ending up at P&O Cruises Australia as Pacific Pearl.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages purchased Pacific Pearl in 2017 and renamed it Columbus. Following the line's collapse, the ship was auctioned off for just $7 million to an undisclosed Turkish buyer who has no plans to place the ship into service. It is not known if the ship will be held onto as a speculative asset or scrapped outright.

Costa Victoria (1996-2020)

Costa Victoria
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.”

Grand Celebration (1987-2020)

Ship Exterior on Grand Celebration
What Made It Special: Grand Celebration was launched in 1987 as Carnival Cruise Line's Celebration. The third in a trio of newbuilds for Carnival, Celebration was part of the Holiday Class that would later pave the way for the highly successful (and somewhat similarly-designed) Fantasy Class.
Celebration was preceded by Holiday and Jubilee. The latter was scrapped in 2017, but Holiday continued to sail on as Magellan for now-defunct Cruise and Maritime Voyages.
Celebration found a new lease on life as Grand Celebration, the lead vessels for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. Operating short two-night cruises to Freeport from West Palm Beach, Grand Celebration also took on a number of humanitarian roles, most recently aiding the people of Grand Bahama Island in the wake of 2019's Hurricane Dorian.
Bahamas Paradise confirmed to Cruise Critic that Grand Celebration had been sold. As of November 24, the ship is en-route to Bhavnagar, India, where it will arrive in early January for demolition.

Horizon (1990-2020)

Horizon
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.
During a call with travel agents on July 15, Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain remarked that all former Pullmantur ships, including Horizon, had indeed been sold. On August 10, Royal Caribbean CFO Jason Liberty confirmed the entire Pullmantur fleet, including Horizon, would be scrapped.

Marco Polo (1965-2020)

Marco Polo
What Made It Special Easily the most venerable and iconic ship on this list, Cruise & Maritime Voyages' Marco Polo was the last of the "grand dame" ocean liners pressed into cruise service, and one of the few remaining passenger vessels from the 1960's still in active cruise passenger service.
The ocean liner turned cruise ship started life as Aleksandr Pushkin for the former Soviet Union's Baltic Sea Shipping Company, or BSSC. The ship was a throwback to another era, offering taps for hot, cold and sea water in cabins; a feature which had been abandoned for some time on contemporary Western liners. However, its ice-strengthened hull and ample public spaces would serve it well in cruise service.
In 1991, the ship was renamed Marco Polo; an iconic moniker it would keep with it for the next three decades despite changing operators several times. After being rebuilt in the early 1990's, Marco Polo entered service with Orient Line until 2008, before becoming part of the Transocean Tours fleet. Cruise & Maritime Voyages acquired the ship in 2010.
When CMV collapsed in the summer of 2020, Marco Polo was sold at auction. Given the vessel's age and relatively high cost of maintenance, it is unlikely to find further service as a passenger vessel.
As of November 24, the ship was currently en-route from the UK to an anchorage off Dubai.

Marella Celebration (1984-2020)

Marella Celebration (Photo: Marella)
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.
On September 1, two publications -- Tradewinds and the Financial Times -- reported that the ship had been sold for scrap.

Marella Dream (1986-2020)

Marella Dream TA Listings Page Image
Marella Dream began life in 1986 as Homeric, the last new ship constructed for Home Lines. In 1988, Home Lines merged with Holland America Line, and Homeric became Westerdam.
Holland America extensively refitted and stretched Westerdam between 1989 and 1990, and the ship carried on with the line until 2002, frequently spending its summers in Alaska on sailings out of Vancouver and winters in the Caribbean.
As Westerdam, the ship played a leading role in the 1997 comedy film Out to Sea, starring Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon as reluctant dance hosts. Unusually for a film, the ship is actually referred to in the movie as the "M/S Westerdam", and many scenes were filmed aboard the actual vessel.
Retired from the Holland America fleet in 2002, Westerdam went on to serve a short stint with Costa Cruises as Costa Europa before landing in the Thomson/Marella family in 2010, first as Thomson Dream before being rebranded as Marella Dream in 2017.
Though a buyer has not been announced, the vessel's age puts it in danger of being scrapped. Marella Cruises officially withdrew Marella Dream from service on October 1, 2020.

Monarch (1991-2020)

Monarch
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. In late July, the ship arrived at the breakers in Aliaga and will be scraped alongside Sovereign.

Ocean Dream (1982-2020)

Peace Boat Ocean Dream at Sea. Photo: Peace Boat
What Made It Special: Few people likely sailed Ocean Dream during the eight years it spent sailing for Japan-based Peace Boat, but more likely know it from its past life as Carnival Cruise Line's trendsetting Tropicale.
Launched in 1982, Tropicale was Carnival's "test ship": the first newbuild to be created for the company, and the ship that would pattern the basic design and layout for every ship launched for the line over the next decade and a half.
Tropicale had no direct sister-ships; subsequent newbuilds for Carnival revolved around the similarly-patterned Holiday Class and the Fantasy Class, which all shared some design characteristics but without total commonality.
Tropicale was in service with Carnival until 2000, when it was transferred to Costa Cruises as Costa Tropicale. The ship enjoyed short stints with P&O Australia as Pacific Star and with Spanish operator Pullmantur as Ocean Dream before being transferred, but not renamed, to Peace Boat in 2012.
On November 27, Ocean Dream was reported sold to scrapping interests overseas.

Sovereign (1988-2020)

Sovereign departing Civitavecchia, the port for Rome, at sunset (Photo: Aaron Saunders/Cruise Critic)
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. Scrapping began in August, with the ship's bow and navigation bridge already gone by the end of the month.
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.
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