Royal Caribbean Sells Its Two Oldest Cruise Ships

Empress of the Seas returned to Miami in 2016 after sailing in Europe – Photo by Royal Caribbean International

From The Maritime Executive 12/16/2020 4:14:05 AM

Royal Caribbean International has sold the two oldest and smallest cruise lines in its fleet. After months of rumors and denials about the fate of the 48,500-ton Empress of the Seas and the 74,000-ton Majesty of the Seas, it is now said that the two ships will be leaving their fleet later this month.

The company said the ships have been sold to “an unnamed party based in the Asia-Pacific region” who will provide details of future voyages at a later date. It is speculated that they could travel to China to expand that country’s domestic cruise industry. Both ships had been idle in the eastern Mediterranean for the past few months.

“The Empress and Majesty of the Seas have left an indelible mark on the cruise industry with their revolutionary design and size,” said Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, announced the sale. “Saying goodbye to these two beloved ships is an important moment in Royal Caribbean history – one that is difficult but necessary. With the plans for new, innovative ships to be added to our fleet in the coming years, we look forward to our guests and crew continuing to make new memories with us. “

The Empress of the Seas was introduced as the Nordic Empress in 1990, despite not being the largest cruise ship built. She played a crucial role for the Royal Caribbean. It was designed with the modern features of the company’s recently launched Sovereign of the Seas, including a multi-story atrium and extensive use of glass and modern amenities. Originally planned for a sister brand, Royal Caribbean took over the ship during construction and used it as an entry point into the 3- and 4-day Bahamas cruise market.

The Empress of the Seas sailed with Royal Caribbean mainly to the Bahamas and later to Bermuda and the Caribbean for 18 years. She was also the first cruise ship in the new port of Bayonne, New Jersey, where Royal Caribbean opened a cruise terminal in 2004.

She was renamed Kaiserin and began sailing in 2008 for Pullmantur, the cruise line marketed in Spain. She returned to Royal Caribbean in 2016 and was the ship that the line introduced cruises to Cuba on. During the 2020 shutdown, the Empress of the Seas was repositioned in the eastern Mediterranean during the summer, leading to rumors that she was on sale.

Majesty of the Seas in Coco Cay in 2019 shows the increase in the size of cruise ships in the 26 years since their construction .– Photo by Royal Caribbean International

The Majesty of the Seas was introduced as the third sovereign class ship in 1992, one of the largest cruise lines in the world at the time. She started her career with 7-day Caribbean cruises and remained a popular ship in the fleet. Replaced by larger and new ships later in her career, she began making short cruises, including trips to the Bahamas and Cuba. Plans had been announced to follow their sister ships Sovereign and Monarch, which operated for Pullmantur, but Royal Caribbean kept them in their fleet instead. Her sister ships both operated for Pullmantur until 2020 and were sold for scrap after Pullmantur filed for bankruptcy in the summer.

The Royal Caribbean Group reports that the decision to sell the two ships was part of an effort to further upgrade their fleet. Carnival Corporation followed a similar strategy in the summer of 2020 to expedite sales of older ships that it wanted to withdraw from its brands.