Former Cunard and MSC Cruise Ship Beached for Scrapping

Former Cunard and MSC cruise ship is beached for scrapping at Turkey's Aliaga ship breaking facility.

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After operating for more than 45 years, the former Cunard Princess has arrived at the shipbreaking yard in Aliaga, Turkey. Over the coming months, the iconic cruise ship will be broken up as scrap metal and sold. 

Cunard Princess operated Caribbean cruises for the UK-based cruise line for nearly twenty years. Built as part of a pair of ships, the other being Cunard Countess, the vessel represented a new era of cruising, one that would usher in the modern era. 

Cunard Princess Arrives In Turkey To Be Scrapped

Cunard Princess arrived in Aliaga, Turkey, on July 11, to be scrapped. It brings to an end an era of cruising that spanned 45 years and proved to be the beginning of the modern era of cruising. Built by Denmark’s Burmeister & Wain shipyard, Cunard Princess was not intended to sail for iconic UK cruise line Cunard. 

The company was mostly known for its ocean liner, Queen Elizabeth 2, but with MGM pulling out of its intended entry to the cruise industry and Cunard wanting to expand its small ship fleet, Cunard managed to purchase the two sister ships later known as Cunard Countess and Cunard Princess. 

With itineraries in the Caribbean, Cunard had been successfully operating popular cruises on relatively smaller ships. Cunard Princess would play an essential role in expanding this capability, paving the way for what would become a multi-billion dollar industry. 

Cunard Princess
Cunard Princess (Photo Credit: Gillfoto / Shutterstock)

At 17,500 gross tons and with space for some 800 passengers, Cunard Princess was not the biggest cruise liner ever built. She entered service for Cunard in 1977; during her career, she sailed cruises to the Caribbean but was also crucial in exploring new cruising areas such as Alaska, Bermuda, and the Mexican Riviera. 

After almost twenty years of sailing cruises for Cunard Line, Cunard Princess was sold to the predecessor of MSC Cruises, StarLauro. As Rhapsody, she operated in the Mediterranean and Europe for MSC Cruises until 2009, until she was sold to Israelian cruise operator Mano Maritime. 

In 2018 she was put up for sale and spent the last four years laid up in Greece until the current owners announced she would be sold as scrap.

The End Of The Classic Cruise Liner

In the last two and a half years, multiple cruise ships have been sent to the scrapyard, with the previous year, in particular, seeing the end of the classic cruise liners of the 60s and 70s. During that era, cruising changed from a vacation option for the rich and famous to something anyone could do for a summer or winter holiday. 

Black Watch Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Riekelt Hakvoort / Shutterstock

Cunard played an essential role in that change. But so did numerous other ships that just recently met their end. 

In recent weeks the last of the Royal Viking Line’s ships, Royal Viking Star, which also operated for Norwegian Cruise Line and Fred Olsen Cruise Line, arrived at the shipbreakers in India. She joined 37 other ships that have been scrapped since the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

Not everyone is sad about the last of the ‘classic’ cruise ships meeting their end. Notoriously expensive to run, the older vessels were also highly polluting, while the financial benefits were becoming smaller over the years. 

With the cruise industry’s commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050, there was little space for ships that have been the backbone of a multibillion-dollar industry employing millions of people worldwide.  

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