Your favorite cruise ship may never come back: 23 classic vessels that could be laid-up, sold or scrapped

Brace yourselves, cruise fans: Some of your favorite ships could
soon be heading to the chopping block.

With most cruise departures around the world
halted due to coronavirus concerns
, and a quick comeback for
cruising
no longer in the cards
, some of the industry’s biggest
players are starting to talk about permanently retiring parts of
their fleets.

On Thursday, cruise giant Carnival Corporation — the world’s
biggest cruise company with around 100 ships — said in a
regulatory filing that it had preliminary agreements to dispose of
six of the vessels in the next 90 days. It said it also was working
to remove additional ships from its fleet.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox,
sign up for
our daily
newsletter
.

Carnival Corporation didn’t name any of the ships that are on
the way out, or the brands that operate them. Carnival Corporation
is the parent company of nine brands including its namesake

Carnival Cruise Line
, Princess
Cruises
, Holland America and Seabourn.

Carnival Corporation also didn’t say whether the ships that it
planned to remove from its fleet would be scrapped. Some may just
be sold to less prominent lines around the globe that can’t
afford new vessels. But just days before Thursday’s announcement,
in an
exclusive, hourlong interview
with TPG, Carnival Corporation
CEO Arnold Donald hinted that at least some of the ships were
headed for dismantling.

“There will be an acceleration of retirement of ships,
there’s no question about that,” Donald told TPG founder and
CEO Brian Kelly. “I’d go so far as to say it’s highly
probable that you are going to see some ships actually scrapped as
opposed to just moving to secondary or tertiary markets.”

Sign
up to receive Brian Kelly’s free weekly
newsletter.

The CEO of the world’s third-largest cruise company, Norwegian
Cruise Line Holdings, also recently told TPG that
ship retirements in the industry were likely
.

A shortlist of ships that could go

For now, most cruise companies are being cagey about which ships
will leave their fleets. But some have offered clues about the
vessels on their shortlists for removal. In some cases, lines have
listed ships that they clearly no longer want for sale. In other
cases, they’ve stopped scheduling new sailings for ships or new
overhauls in dry dock.

Age is one obvious marker of whether a vessel is on the way out
from a fleet. It’s not uncommon for major lines to sell off older
vessels after they reach 20 or 25 years of age. Carnival, for
instance, removed two ships from its fleet (Celebration and
Holiday) during the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 that were 21
and 24 years old, respectively. The last Royal Caribbean ship to
leave its fleet, Legend of the Seas, was 22 years old at the
time.

Such ships usually don’t disappear right away. They’re often
sold to smaller lines that can’t afford newer vessels for at
least a few more years of operation. That said, cruise ships
don’t last forever, and it’s not uncommon for vessels to be
scrapped after 40 or 50 years of service.

A sudden retirement of a wide swath of older vessels would be
bad news for cruisers who love smaller ships. At nearly every line,
the ships built in recent years are much bigger than those built
more than 20 years ago. Royal Caribbean’s two-year-old
Symphony of the Seas
, for instance, is nearly five times bigger
than the line’s oldest ship, Empress of the Seas.

Related:
Why cruise ships keep getting bigger

Below is a list of the vessels we think are the most likely to
disappear from their respective lines in the coming months. In some
cases, they might just be sold by their current owners to a
less-prominent brand. But at least a few of these ships, we
suspect, will never return to sailing.

Note that the list does not include vessels from some overseas
lines that operate in languages other than English, such as
Germany’s Aida Cruises. Aida, a part of Carnival Corporation, has
several older, smaller vessels that would be logical candidates for
removal in a companywide purge of older and smaller vessels.

Carnival Fantasy

Christened in 1990, this is the oldest ship in the Carnival
fleet, and there are hints that the line is ready to let it go. For
starters, Carnival hasn’t announced sailings for the vessel
beyond January 2022. By contrast, the line has announced sailings
for every other one of the 27 ships in its fleet through at least
April 2022.

Unveiled in 1990, Carnival Fantasy is the oldest ship in the Carnival fleet. (Photo by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).Unveiled
in 1990, Carnival Fantasy is the oldest ship in the Carnival fleet.
(Photo by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).

Carnival also has not released a date for the next dry dock for
Carnival Fantasy. Cruise ships usually go into dry dock for routine
maintenance every couple of years, and Carnival Fantasy hasn’t
undergone a dry dock overhaul since January 2019.

Carnival Fantasy is the first of eight Fantasy Class vessels at
Carnival that debuted between 1990 and 1998. While innovative for
their time, they are smaller and less efficient than modern-day
Carnival ships. They also lack a significant number of balcony
cabins that many cruisers today desire. That said, many Carnival
fans love the small size of the Fantasy Class ships. At 70,367
tons, Carnival Fantasy is about half the size of Carnival’s
newest ship, Carnival Panorama.

Related:
TPG Cruise goes inside Carnival Panorama
 

Carnival Elation

Like Carnival Fantasy, this is a Fantasy Class ship at Carnival
that dates to the 1990s. It’s a bit younger than Carnival
Fantasy, having debuted in 1998. But it has
popped up on ship broker sites,
such as Yacht World, which is a
sign that Carnival is ready to remove it from the fleet.

Carnival Elation sails out of Port
Canaveral, Florida
.

Carnival Inspiration

This is another Fantasy Class ship at Carnival that
shows up at ship broker sites
, suggesting that Carnival is
ready to part ways with it. It dates to 1996 and sails out of Long
Beach, California.

Related:
Carnival fans dealt blows as line cancels sailings into
fall

Carnival Cruise LineCarnival
Cruise Line’s Carnival Inspiration. (Photo by Andy Newman
courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

Of course, just because Carnival has listed a ship for sale
doesn’t mean the vessel is immediately on the way out. Cruise
lines sometimes have ships listed for sale for long periods.

Empress of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s oldest ship is increasingly an outlier in
the line’s fleet, which every year becomes more dominated by
giant mega-ships that are chock full
of amusements
. At 48,563 tons, it’s nearly five times smaller
than the line’s big
Oasis Class vessels
, and it only holds 1,602 passengers at
double occupancy.

Royal CaribbeanRoyal
Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal
Caribbean)

Called Nordic Empress when it originally debuted in 1990,
Empress of the Seas is now 30 years old, which is old for a Royal
Caribbean ship. Royal Caribbean already has removed it from its
fleet once before, in 2008, when it transferred the vessel to the
Royal Caribbean-affiliated Spanish line Pullmantur. But Royal
Caribbean brought it back to its fleet in 2016 to operate sailings
to Cuba,
which due to port limitations could only be done with smaller
vessels. Cruises from the U.S. to Cuba have since ceased due to
changing government policy.

Related: The
best credit cards for booking cruises

Grandeur of the Seas

Unveiled in 1996, this is the third oldest of Royal
Caribbean’s 26 ships, and it’s already scheduled to leave the
line’s fleet in 2021. The line said last October that it would
transfer the ship to Pullmantur. But on Monday, Pullmantur
announced it was insolvent and
reorganizing under Spanish insolvency laws
. It’s now unclear
whether the transfer still will take place.

Related:
The coronavirus pandemic claims its first cruise
line
 

Royal
Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal
Caribbean)

Grandeur of the Seas is one of Royal Caribbean’s Vision Class
ships, which the line has slowly been removing from its fleet. Two
other Vision Class ships — Splendour of the Seas and Legend of
the Seas — already have been transferred in recent years to
British line Marella Cruises.

Another Vision Class ship, Rhapsody of the
Seas
, also could be on the shortlist of vessels that Royal
Caribbean hopes to remove from its fleet. It appears for sale on
some ship broker sites.

Related:
4 reasons you shouldn’t take a voucher if your cruise is
canceled

Majesty of the Seas

Sailing for Royal Caribbean since 1992, Majesty of the Seas is
the second-oldest ship in the line’s fleet and its only remaining
Sovereign Class vessel. The other two were transferred years ago to
Royal Caribbean-affiliated Pullmantur.

Royal CaribbeanRoyal
Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas. (Photo courtesy of Royal
Caribbean)

Measuring just 74,077 tons, Majesty of the Seas is about a third
the size of Royal Caribbean’s biggest vessels and popular with
Royal Caribbean fans who prefer smaller ships. It carries 2,350
passengers at double occupancy. It sails out of New
Orleans
.

Related:
American Express’ Cruise Privileges program

Maasdam

Holland America’s oldest and smallest ship is listed for sale
on ship broker sites and has no sailings scheduled beyond September
2021.

The Holland America ship Maasdam. (Photo by Tamme/Adobe Stock)The
Holland America ship Maasdam. (Photo by Tamme/Adobe Stock)

Christened in 1993, Maasdam is now 27 years old. It’s part of
a class of four vessels that Holland America began transferring out
of its fleet in 2014. Just two of the ships remain in the Holland
America fleet — Maasdam and younger sister
Veendam, which debuted in 1996. Veendam is another
logical candidate for removal from the Holland America fleet.

Costa Victoria

Unveiled in 1996, this 1,928-passenger vessel has spent its
entire career sailing for Costa Cruises and is one of the line’s
oldest ships. European news outlets in recent days have said

the vessel is being sold
to a shipyard in Genoa, Italy, perhaps
to be used as a floating dormitory for crew from ships undergoing
maintenance work.

A spokesperson for Carnival Corporation would not say what
vessels in the Costa fleet or other Carnival Corporation-owned
fleets have been sold in recent weeks.

Related: Top travel
insurance providers

Costa neoRomantica

Costa Cruises’ oldest ship dates to 1993 and measures just
56,869 tons, making in an outlier in the Costa fleet. Costa’s
newest vessel measures more than 185,000 tons.

With the departure of Costa Victoria from the Costa fleet, Costa
neoRomantica will be a full 10 years older than the next oldest
Costa ship.

Another smaller Costa Cruises ship, the 2003-built Costa
Mediterranea
, is scheduled to transfer to a Carnival
Corporation-affiliated Chinese cruise company in 2021.

Sovereign

Originally built for Royal Caribbean as Sovereign of the Seas,
this 2,282-passenger ship is an icon of the cruise world. Billed as
the world’s first “mega-ship†when it debuted in 1988, it
featured a five-deck Centrum with glass elevators, sweeping
staircases and fountains in marble pools — a revolutionary
concept at the time. At around 73,000 tons, it was the biggest
purpose-built cruise ship ever, though it has been eclipsed in size
many times over during the past three decades.

Sovereign of the Seas sailed for Royal Caribbean until 2008 when
it was transferred to Spanish line Pullmantur and renamed
Sovereign. In the wake of Pullmantur’s filing for reorganization
on Monday, reports already have surfaced that Sovereign is being
stripped of valuables — a sign that it may be heading for a
scrapyard.

Monarch

Unveiled in 1991, this is a sister ship to Sovereign that also
is now in the Pullmantur fleet. Like Sovereign, it originally
sailed for Royal Caribbean, where it was called Monarch of the
Seas. It left the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2013. In the wake of
Pullmantur’s insolvency filing on Monday, there are reports that
this ship, too, is being stripped of its valuables.

Related: Best
travel credit cards of 2020

Pacific Princess

Far smaller than any other Princess Cruises ship, Pacific
Princess has been an outlier in the line’s fleet for some time.
Measuring just 30,277 tons, it’s nearly five times smaller than
the latest Princess vessels such as the eight-month-old Sky
Princess
. It holds just 680 passengers at double occupancy —
more than 80% fewer than the newest Princess ships.

Pacific Princess, Sydney, AustraliaThe
Princess Cruises ship Pacific Princess in Sydney, Australia. (Photo
courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Princess hasn’t said anything about removing Pacific Princess
from its fleet, and fans of small-ship cruising love the vessel,
but it’s surely an oddity for the line to keep operating. Built
in the late 1990s for long-defunct Renaissance Cruises, it’s a
sister to seven other vessels that now form the core of the fleets
of Oceania Cruises and Azamara, and it’s built more for the sort
of intimate, smaller-ship, destination-focused cruising that those
two lines offer.

Two other Princess vessels that would be logical candidates for
removal from the line’s fleet are its two Sun Class ships:
Sun Princess and Sea Princess.
Unveiled in 1995 and 1998, respectively, they are the oldest
vessels in the Princess fleet and relatively small, with room for
just 1,990 passengers at double occupancy.

Celestyal Olympia

Originally built for Royal Caribbean as Song of America, this is
another vessel that is listed for sale on ship broker sites. It
debuted in 1982 and is now 38 years old.

Celestyal Olympia is part of Cyprus-based Celestyal Cruises,
which is known for sailings around Greece and Turkey. The line
currently has just two ships. In addition to Celestyal Olympia, the
line operates Celestyal Crystal, a 40-year-old
vessel that originally was built as a cruise ferry for the ferry
company Viking Line (not to be confused with the cruise line

Viking
). It was completely rebuilt in 1990 after a fire and
then rebuilt again in 1994 after a partially sinking.

Given its age, Celestyal Crystal is another vessel that could be
a contender for retirement.

Related:
Travel insurance versus credit card protections

Marella Celebration

British line Marella Cruises in April said this 1,254-passenger
vessel will not reemerge from the coronavirus shutdown and is being
retired early. Dating to 1984, it’s a former Holland America ship
that sailed under the name Noordam for many years.

Marella didn’t say whether the ship would be scrapped or sold
to another cruise operator.

Marella operates five other ships, all built in the 1980s or
1990s for other lines. The oldest, Marella Dream,
dates to 1986, making it 34 years old and another candidate for
early retirement. The ship initially sailed as Homeric for the
long-defunct Home Lines and later for Holland America (as
Westerdam) and Costa Cruises (as Costa Europa).

Related:
TPG’s beginner’s guide to points, miles and credit
cards

Pacific Dawn

Originally built for Princess as the Regal Princess, this
29-year-old vessel is the oldest ship in the P&O Cruises
Australia fleet. Princess and P&O Cruises Australia are sister
brands.

Pacific Dawn is scheduled to be transferred to British line
Cruise & Maritime Voyages in February 2021, and we wouldn’t
be surprised if it never sails again for P&O Cruises Australia.
Australia is one of several destinations around the world that may
limit cruising for some time.

Related: 17
destinations that may not welcome ships when cruising
resumes
 

Cruise & Maritime Voyages also is scheduled to take
possession of another P&O Cruises Australia vessel,
Pacific Aria, in early 2021.

A wildcard for cruise ship retirements: Cruise & Maritime
Voyages itself operates several older vessels that also are logical
candidates for any shortlist of ships that could be retired in an
era of fewer vessels.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus
outbreak:

Feature image courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line.

Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News2
Your favorite cruise ship may never come back: 23 classic
vessels that could be laid-up, sold or scrapped