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What Happens To Cruise Ships When They Retire?

Projected figures show that the number of cruise ships in operation will exceed 500 by the end of this year. But, as new vessels are introduced all the time, what happens to those which they replace? Many get passed on to other cruise lines when their current operator is finished with them, but there comes a point when every ship reaches the end of the line.

It’s a sad sight to see a ship no longer doing what it was built to do, but the story ends happier for some than it does for others. Here are four different vessels which have all had differing fortunes since they were retired by their owners.

RMS Mauretania

RMS Mauretania under full steam

After holding numerous speed records and surviving stints as both a troop ship and hospital ship during World War I, Mauritania become one of the most popular cruise ships of the 1900s. She was, until RMS Olympic was built, the largest cruise ship in the world and held the east and westbound Blue Riband for twenty years, for travelling across the Atlantic in the fastest time.

However, all good thigs must come to an end and, after merging with White Star Line in 1934, Cunard made the decision to retire her in favour of building new vessels. This old favourite went out in style though, receiving celebratory services in Southampton, as she made her final voyage from the port; Newcastle, where she was originally built; and Rosyth, where she would finally be scrapped. After furnishings were removed and installed in a bar in Bristol and in the boardroom at Pinewood Studios in London, her hull was chopped up in 1936.

SS United States

SS United States

After several false dawns and having been passed from one investor to another like a parcel at a children’s party without the promise of a positive outcome when the music stopped, it seems that America’s most beloved cruise ship will finally get the reincarnation she was promised. Built in 1959, SS United States remains the fastest vessel to ever cross the Atlantic and was a proud symbol of America for 17 years.

However, the arrival of the jet engine saw the appeal of cruising diminish and so, with the ship no longer profitable, United States Lines decided to retire her. It was then that the continuous chain of ownership started, until she found a permanent home in Philadelphia, where she still sits today. Good news is on the horizon though, as Crystal Cruises recently announced that they had purchased SS United States and now plan to spend more than $700 million to bring her back into service for 2018.

Silja Festival

Silja Festival

The name Silja Festival may be a name that is nowhere near as recognisable as the others on the lists, but it played an important role in helping a Canadian town with a housing problem in 2014. At this time, construction boomed in the town of Kitimat, British Columbia and so workers flooded to the area to help with upgrading an aluminium smelter and other work involving natural gas. This resulted in a housing shortage and left employees wondering where they were going to stay during their contract.

An ingenious solution was found, though, in the shape of former Estonian cruise ship Silja Festival. More used to sailing around the Baltic, the vessel was transferred to Vancouver for renovations before sailing on to Kitimat and being renamed the Delta Spirit Lodge. The ship was home to around 600 employees for over a year before being transferred back to Vancouver on completion of the construction work.

Queen Elizabeth 2

QE2 in Lisbon

The most famous cruise ship on the list probably has the saddest retirement story of all. That’s because, despite numerous attempts to save this iconic liner, it seems that she will spend the rest of her days rusting forlornly in a Dubai port. After entering service in 1969, the QE2 (as she is affectionately known) sailed around the world 25 times, made more than 800 transatlantic crossings and hosted over 2.5 million passengers on her esteemed decks.

Upon her retirement in 2004, Cunard’s former flagship continued to sail world cruises for another four years. In 2008 she was retired fully and plans were later put in place to transfer her to China where she would be turned into a 1000-room luxury hotel. Yet, more than seven years have passed since this was announced and the economic crash in 2013 seems to have put the brakes firmly on these plans. It is still unknown whether the Queen Elizabeth 2 will ever be saved from her current state.

Switching focus to ships that are still in operation, we can offer a wide range of itineraries in various different destinations. From Caribbean cruises to those in the Mediterranean, call our team today to find your perfect cruise holiday.

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