The 1990-built Empress of the Seas and the 1992-built Majesty of the Seas were the oldest vessels in the Royal Caribbean fleet, but ones that nonetheless had a loyal following of cruisers who prized them for their classic design, smaller size and affordable itineraries.
Royal Caribbean says the two vessels have been sold to an undisclosed party in Asia-Pacific for future cruise service and have not been slated for scrapping at this time. Currently, Empress of the Seas is en-route to Valetta, Malta, while Majesty of the Seas is at anchor off the Greek island of Crete.
"Empress and Majesty of the Seas made indelible marks on the cruise industry with their revolutionary design and size," said Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean. "Touted as the cruise industry's most ground-breaking ships when they were introduced, they continued to make history throughout their more than three decades of service.
"Saying goodbye to these two beloved ships is a major moment in Royal Caribbean's history -- one that is difficult but necessary. With plans for new, innovative ships to join our fleet in the upcoming years, we look forward to our guests and crew continuing to make new memories with us.”
Empress of the Seas was the first modern cruise ship designed expressly for three-and-four-night sailings when it debuted in 1990. Named Nordic Empress, it stayed with the Royal Caribbean fleet until 2008, when it was transferred to Royal Caribbean's Spanish subsidiary, Pullmantur. Empress of the Seas found itself back in the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2016, when it was pressed into service operating cruises to Havana, Cuba.
Freedom of the Seas: What's It Like Onboard a Test Cruise? (Cruise Critic & Royal Caribbean Blog
Anthem Of The Seas Welcomes Gigi The Giraffe
Oasis Of The Seas Ship Tour - Ship Exterior
What It Means To Be Loyal To Royal
Here's What We Packed For Our Royal Caribbean Cruise (June 2021)
7 Can’t-Miss Experiences on Allure Of The Seas
Celebrity to Restart from U.S. Homeport, PLUS Royal Caribbean Given Green Light for Test Cruises! (VIDEO)
Odyssey of the Seas -- From Steel Cutting to Delivery 2021
Video Of Odyssey Of The Seas Conveyance March 2021
Video: Royal Caribbean Group Announces E-muster, Keyless Cabin Check-in And Other App Improvements
Royal Caribbean Odyssey Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Shipyard Tour: Royal Caribbean’s Symphony Of The Seas Gets Its Finishing Touches -- Video
Harmony Of The Seas Video Tour – Inside Look At One Of Royal Caribbean’s Most Popular Cruise Ships
Symphony Of The Seas Video Tour
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum Of The Seas Celebrates Keel Laying
Sea Beyond: An Innovative Cruise Experience By Royal Caribbean
Sneak Peak At Symphony Of The Seas
What’s Your Size? Royal Caribbean's Oasis Class Vs. Majesty Of The Seas - Video
Royal Caribbean's Oasis Of The Seas Highlights
Spectrum Of The Seas Steel Cutting At Meyer Werft
Royal Caribbean's Enchantment Of The Seas Highlights
Harvest Caye Cruise Port Video Tour
Royal Caribbean's Allure Of The Seas
Video Tour of Allure Of The Seas' Bars
Cruise Pier Runners In Cozumel -- Carnival Liberty
Harmony Of The Seas Youth Place
Harmony Of The Seas Boardwalk
Harmony Of The Seas Pool And Sports Zone
Harmony Of The Seas Central Park On Royal Caribbean International
Harmony Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Harmony Of The Seas Entertainment Place
Harmony Of The Seas Vitality Spa And Fitness Center
Perfect Storm Water Slides On Harmony Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Harmony Of The Seas Cabins - Video Tour - Cruise Critic
Cruise Critic Tours Harmony Of The Seas
Greased Lightnin' Royal Caribbean Brings Another Broadway Hit
Plunging Into Adventure On The Tallest Slide At Sea: Royal Caribbean Reveals 10-Story Ultimate Abyss
Cruise Critic Flowrider On Royal Caribbean's Freedom Of The Seas
Cruise Critic Tours Anthem of the Seas
Carnival Liberty Cruise - Late Passengers In Cozumel
Oasis Of The Seas Flowrider - Cruise Critic Goes Surfing
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade
Oasis Of The Seas Jazz On 4 Performance
Oasis Of The Seas Royal Promenade Parade
Oasis Of The Seas Carousel In Action
Oasis Of The Seas Ship Tour Main Dining Room
In later years, Empress of the Seas was referred to affectionately by passengers and crew as "The Small Ship with the Biggest Heart" in the fleet.
Majesty of the Seas was the last remaining member of Royal Caribbean's iconic Sovereign-class that also included Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas. Those vessels had left for Pullmantur several years ago, and were scrapped this year in Aliaga, Turkey. Recently, Majesty of the Seas had made New Orleans its homeport, sailing weeklong itineraries to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.
Executives, Readers Share Memories
Michael Bayley, who started out as a crewmember aboard both Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas, shared some remembrances of these two iconic vessels.
"I know this is bittersweet for many of you who have made unforgettable memories on board throughout the years," said Bayley. "Their departure hits close to home for me as well, as I was part of the crew on Nordic Empress and Majesty of the Seas when we introduced her to the world."
Bayley noted that all crew members from both ships will be reassigned to other vessels once operations resume again.
Cruise Critic readers also chimed in with their memories of these two special ships:
"We took many wonderful cruises on both of these ships," writes cruisegirl1. "In fact, our first time on Empress of the Seas was when the ship was still called the Nordic Empress ( 1998). The last time was to Cuba in 2017."
"Sailed the Empress when she was still the Nordic Empress," writes njkruzer. "We were on her in 2002 when she was the 1st ship with passengers allowed back into NYC harbors after 9/11."
"Feel fortunate to have sailed on both, in 2002 on the Nordic Empress and in 2018 on Majesty," writes poocher. "Great small ships, many fond memories."
Cruise Critic contributor Aaron Saunders had the opportunity to sail aboard Empress of the Seas in January for the first time.
"I'd always wanted to sail Empress of the Seas," he said. "It didn't have the glitz and the features of Royal Caribbean's newest ships, but I absolutely fell head-over-heels for it. My cabin was small, sure. But the rest of the ship, from Boleros to the gorgeous Schooner Bar, was so well-kept and so spacious that it felt almost brand-new. I'd looked forward to sailing aboard Empress again, and I'll miss it terribly."
Royal Caribbean states it will reach out to affected passengers with bookings aboard both ships in the coming days.
Have you sailed aboard Empress or Majesty of the Seas? Head over to our message boards to share your memories of these two special ships.