Which Ships Did Royal Caribbean Sell?
It's no secret that 2020 was a rough year for the cruise industry. Amid months of no-sail orders, hundreds of thousands of voyage cancellations and billions of dollars borrowed to keep cruise lines afloat, a handful of lines have had to purge their oldest vessels in order to cut costs.
Despite the expiration of the CDC's no-sail order and the fervent efforts of healthcare workers to administer vaccinations, cruising still remains on hold. The situation has become so dire that the trend of cruise lines' liquidating ships for a song has continued into 2021.
So, which ships did Royal Caribbean sell? We'll take a look here.
For the purposes of this article, we'll be exploring ships that have been unloaded by Royal Caribbean Group, the parent company that owns Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Silversea and, previously, Azamara Cruises. The group also is part owner of Spanish line Pullmantur.
Pullmantur Ships Sold in 2020
On June 22, 2020, Pullmantur filed for reorganization (basically the European term for bankruptcy).
Shortly after, two of the line's ships were sold for scrap. On July 22 and July 23, 2020, Monarch and Sovereign -- formerly Monarch of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas -- respectively were beached at a breaker yard in Aliaga, Turkey, where workers quickly began the dismantling process.
Known widely for being the first of the cruise industry's megaships, Sovereign (then Sovereign of the Seas under Royal Caribbean) was the largest passenger vessel afloat when it debuted in 1988, and it was the first in the line's three-ship Sovereign Class. Monarch (of the Seas) was the second.
Crew from the two ships were reassigned to Royal Caribbean, and since the initial reorganization was revealed, there are rumors that the line could return with a fleet of some of Celebrity Cruises' former ships.
Royal Caribbean International Ships Sold in 2020
- Empress of the Seas
- Majesty of the Seas
Royal Caribbean announced in mid-December of 2020 that it sold two of its oldest ships -- Majesty of the Seas and Empress of the Seas -- to an undisclosed party in the Asia-Pacific region.
It was later uncovered that the new owner of Empress of the Seas is India-based cruise line startup Cordelia Cruises.
Since then, however, the sale of Majesty of the Seas has been shrouded in mystery. Royal Caribbean assured fans of the vessel -- the third and only unscrapped ship from the line's Sovereign Class -- that the buyer would make an announcement at a later date.
In the meantime, there is speculation that it could have been acquired by Seajets, a Greek ferry company that scooped up at least six other cruise ships in 2020.
Empress of the Seas is noteworthy in that it wasn't a new-build for Royal Caribbean. Instead, it joined the fleet in 1988 after the line acquired Admiral Cruises, for which the ship sailed as Nordic Empress. As a result, it was the only ship in its class. It also pioneered the concept of short cruises.
Azamara Ships Sold in 2021
- Azamara Journey
- Azamara Pursuit
- Azamara Quest
On January 19, 2021, Royal Caribbean Group disclosed that it sold its Azamara Cruises brand to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $201 million in cash.
Royal Caribbean Group Chief Financial Officer Jason Liberty said the decision to sell Azamara was not driven by the global health crisis, despite the inherit financial benefit to the company for doing so.
As part of the sale, the firm acquired not only all of the brand's intellectual property but also all three of Azamara's ships -- Azamara Quest, Azamara Journey and Azamara Pursuit.
In a bizarre turn of events, it also purchased Pacific Princess from Princess Cruises, which announced the sale of the ship to an undisclosed buyer on January 21, 2021 -- just two days after Azamara was sold. The vessel will join Azamara as the fleet's fourth ship.
Sycamore Partners retained Azamara's chief operating officer, Carol Cabezas, who will now serve as the brand's president.
Additionally, the firm brought on former Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford, who parted ways with Holland America in May of 2020. He will take on the role of executive chairman of Azamara Cruises.
The line's top brass has vowed there are currently no sweeping changes planned for the line, so passengers can expect the experience to remain relatively unchanged when operations resume under the new ownership.
Summary of Ships Sold by Royal Caribbean Group in 2020 and 2021
Royal Caribbean Group sold seven total ships in 2020 and 2021:
- Monarch (2020)
- Sovereign (2020)
- Empress of the Seas (2020)
- Majesty of the Seas (2020)
- Azamara Journey (2021)
- Azamara Pursuit (2021)
- Azamara Quest (2021)