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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

September 01, 2020

Aaron Saunders
By Aaron Saunders
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(Updated 2:09 p.m. EDT) -- 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.

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)

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. Fred. Olsen says it is still firming up plans for next steps for the ships.

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 itl 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.

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.”

Horizon (1990-2020)

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. The vessel is still currently alongside Piraeus, Greece as of this writing.

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 Celebration is currently at anchor off Malta as of this writing.

Monarch (1991-2020)

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.

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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