Built for the long haul, some cruise ships have more lives than a cat.
The last example is the 1991-launched Princess Royal. She later became the Pacific dawn, was briefly named the Amy johnson, has been renamed MS Satoshi, was scrapped earlier this year as part of a failed deal – and is now taking on new life as Atmosphere, the first ship of the young British cruise company Ambassador.
The 1,400 passenger, 660 crew member ship cost $ 277 million to build and was delivered to Princess Cruises by the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy. From 1991 to 2007 she sailed routes in North America, Australia and later the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.
In 2007 Princess royal has been transferred to P&O Cruises Australia, has undergone a major refurbishment and has been reborn as Pacific dawn, cruise departing from Australia to destinations in the South Pacific.
In 2020, as the global pandemic ravaged the cruise industry, it was announced that the ship would be sold to Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) and renamed the Amy johnson. But CMV’s financial difficulties turned out to be too great and the company was put into receivership (essentially bankrupt).
Faced with an uncertain future, the ship was sold for just $ 9.5 million in 2020. The new owners, Ocean Builders Central, were a group of libertarian cryptocurrency enthusiasts which planned to anchor the ship off the coast of Panama as a floating residence for digital nomads, YouTube influencers and start-up specialists.
They renamed the ship MS Satoshi, in tribute to the Japanese founder of the cryptocurrency Satoshi Nakamoto.
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“The MS Satoshi is a business driven environment where you can relocate your existing business, set up a new global headquarters or come and start a new business and be supported in an environment of like-minded entrepreneurs, âOcean Builders said on its website .
The plan was to auction off the ship’s 777 cabins at prices starting at $ 25,000, plus a monthly fee. When the auction only resulted in the sale of a handful of cabins, Ocean Builders shifted gears, claiming that they would rent the cabins on a daily, weekly or monthly basis instead.
Then came the news that no insurance company would touch the proposed deal, and the crypto-cruisers threw in the towel, announcing that the once proud ship would be sold to a scrapyard in India.
In another twist of the plot, this deal fell through because Ocean Builders failed to realize that under the Basel Convention, which covers the disposal of hazardous waste, they could not send the ship from a country signatory – Panama – to a non-signatory country – India.
The contract was canceled – rather than the MS Satoshi – and Ocean Builders ended up with 70,285 gross tons from a 30-year-old cruise ship.
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But there is a happy ending to this story, at least for now. When a ship broker heard of the fate of the former Princess royal, they thought the old maid could meet the needs of a client looking to start a new cruise line. A deal was struck – apparently for $ 12 million – and the Atmosphere was born.
The buyer was UK based Ambassador Cruise Company, a new company made up of several former executives from Cruise & Maritime Voyages – the now deceased line that had almost bought the ship a year earlier.
“We thought Atmosphere a pretty name for a ship, âsaid Gordon Wilson, President of the Ambassador, in an interview with The Guardian. “She is a very elegant ship,” he added. âShe looks like a cruise ship; it doesn’t look like a floating building.
Ambassador promises a traditional cruise experience primarily aimed at the over 50 market when the Atmosphere embarks on her maiden voyage from Tilbury, England, to Hamburg, Germany, next April.
âAmbassador will offer distinguished cuisine, fascinating journeys on a classic cruise ship, superb entertainment, like-minded guests and treasured destinations. The company will provide a seamless, authentic and rewarding cruise experience, âthe line promises on its website.
With so many classic cruise ships scrapped over the past 18 months, it’s nice to see this longtime ‘princess’ find a new life.
Good luck to her and to all who sail on her.