SOLAS will retire classics

Solas 2010 signals death knell for ‘classic’ cruiseships
By Mike Hood, June 2007 Lloyds List

THE fast approaching implementation date of Solas 2010 will have a severe impact on the shape of the existing world cruiseship fleet as the future of a number of ‘classic’ cruise vessels is in doubt. British operator Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is one of the first operators to confirm a ship loss due to the new regulations, saying that its venerable 1966-built Black Prince will have to cease operations by October, 2010. However, Fred Olsen has not said whether this former ferry will be sold or scrapped, although the latter is more likely.

Solas 2010 focuses principally on the use of combustible materials. By 2010 no combustible materials will be allowed anywhere in the construction or conversion of any passengership. Existing cruise ships built under the old Solas 48 rules, which permitted the use of such combustible materials, will be the most affected. The new Solas regulations, coupled with rising fuel costs and the problems with asbestos, will mean the end of the road for a number of ageing cruiseships and repair and maintenance costs to keep them in service become unrealistic. There are at present around 30 such vessels still in operation, built between the mid 1950s and mid 1960s.

These are the vessels threatened the most, although some are getting a new lease of life in the cruise industry such as Orient Lines 22,080 gt, 1966-built Marco Polo which has been sold to Greek owners and will start a long-term charter to Transocean of Germany from the summer of next year. The future for the ageing cruise fleet is very uncertain, with the scrapyard their mostly likely last port of call.

However, a number of vessels will find new careers as floating hotels around the world, like the most famous passenger ship in the world, Cunard’s QE2, which is to end its days at the Palm Jumeirah complex in Dubai. Other existing cruiseships that look likely to follow this course include the 28,891 gt, 1966-built Oceanic II, the former Swedish America transatlantic liner Kungsholm. This vessel, which was German operator Holiday Kreuzfahrten’s Mona Lisa until the company went bankrupt last year, is at present on charter to the floating university Scholar Ship.

However, Swedish entrepreneur Lars Hallgren, owner of Top Industri, has signed a letter of intent with the vessel’s Greek owners to acquire the ship, which was built by Clydeside shipbuilder John Brown & Co. The intention is to restore the vessel to its original appearance, both externally and internally, replacing its twin funnels and aft mast and use the vessel as a floating hotel, restaurant and museum in Gothenburg. Meanwhile, there are reports that Pullmantur’s 38,772 gt, 1965-built Oceanic could end up as a floating hotel in either Dubai or Melbourne.

Other veterans in firing line – AGEING cruiseships that face an uncertain future due to Solas 2010 include:

Aegean II — 12,609 gt, 1957-built , ex Ivory, ex Ausonia, now operated by Golden Star Cruises of Greece

Andrea — 2,632 gt, 1960-built ,former Norwegian Coastal Express vessel Harald Jarl, now owned by Elegant Cruises & Tours of the US

Arion — 5,885 gt, 1965-built vessel operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Athena — 16,144 gt, 1948-built former transatlantic liner Stockholm, now operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Dalmacija — 5,619 gt, 1965-built , now operated by Adriatic Cruises of Croatia

Funchal — 9,563 gt, 1961-built, operated by Classic International Cruises of Portugal

Kristina Regina — 4,295 gt, 1960-built, owned by Kristina Cruises of Finland

Maxim Gorkiy — 24,981 gt, 1969-built former transatlantic liner Hamburg, now operated by Phoenix Reisen of Germany

National Geographic Endeavour — 3,132 gt, 1966-built former stern trawler Marburg, now operated by US specialist cruise company Lindblad Expeditions

Ocean Majesty — 10,417 gt, 1966-built vessel operated by Majestic International Cruises of Greece

Ocean Monarch — 17,074 gt, 1955-built former passenger-cargoship Port Sydney, now operated by Majestic International Cruises of Greece

Oceanic — 38,772 gt, 1965-built former Home Lines transatlantic liner, now operated by Pullmantur Cruises of Spain. There is interest in turning vessel into floating hotel in either Dubai or Melbourne

Princess Danae — 16,531 gt, 1955-built former passenger-cargoship Port Melbourne, now operated by Classic International Cruises

Regal Empress — 21,909 gt, 1953-built former Greek transatlantic liner Olympia, now operated by US owner Imperial Majesty Cruise Line

Royal Star — 5,360 gt, 1956-built former Italian liner San Giorgio, now operated by African Safari Club of Switzerland

Saga Rose — 24,474 gt, 1965-built former Norwegian liner Sagafjord, now owned by Saga Cruises of Britain

Sapphire — 12,263 gt, 1967-built former Italian liner Italia, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines of Cyprus

Serenade — 14,173 gt, 1957-built former French liner Jean Mermoz, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines

The Calypso — 11,162 gt, 1968-built former Mediterranean ferry Canguro Verde, now owned by Louis Cruise Lines

The Emerald — 26,428 gt, 1958-built former US operator Grace Line’s liner Santa Rosa, now operated by Louis Cruise Lines

The Topaz – 32,327 gt, 1956-built former transatlantic liner Empress of Britain, now owned by Kyma Ship Management of Miami and chartered to Peaceboat of Japan

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