The MS Sovereign, the former Royal Caribbean Sovereign of the Seas and once the world’s largest cruise ship, has arrived in the Turkish ship-scrapping hub of Aliaga, where she will be dismantled after 32 years at sea.
The ship is being scrapped after its owner, the Spanish cruise operator, Pullmantur filed for bankruptcy last month amid the COVID-19 induced global shut-down of the cruise industry.
The Sovereign is being scrapped along with the two other ships in the Pullmantur fleet, the MS Monarch and the MV Horizon.
In early June, Pullmantur said it was cancelling sailings through November 15, but less than three weeks later it filed for bankruptcy.
The joint venture with Royal Caribbean carried just over 400,000 passengers in 2019, 40% of whom were Spanish.
The Sovereign of the Seas made her maiden voyage for Royal Caribbean from Port Miami on January 16, 1988 and at the time was the world’s largest cruise ship with a capacity of 2,850 passengers.
Sovereign of the Seas, the world’s first mega cruise ship
Constructed at a cost of some $200 million at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, she was described at the time as the world’s first mega ship and was the first Royal Caribbean ship to be given the “of the Seas” suffix now ubiquitously associated with the company.
The LA Times noted that “in each cabin, passengers can make use of an interactive video system to read the menu ahead of time, order wine for dinner, schedule wake-up calls, book shore excursions or check on the running total of their bar bills.”
It also noted the Sovereign of the Seas’ five-deck atrium, the Centrum, which it described as glittering “with glass elevators, marble walls and luxury boutiques, looking for all the world like an ultramodern hotel lobby or urban shopping mall.”
Back in 1988, the lowest priced cabins on the ship voyage cost $1,390 a person (including airfare) for a 7-day Caribbean cruise; a mid-range outside stateroom was about$1,700, while a berth in one of her four “top of the line” suites cost $2,250.
Frank Braynard, curator of the American Merchant Marine Museum on Long Island told The Morning Call at the time: “I think Sovereign of the Seas will be the sovereign of the seas …. she’s a fantastically beautiful ship.”
In November 2008, Sovereign of the Seas joined Pullmantur, making her first voyage for the joint venture on March 23, 2009.
First major cruise ship to be captained by a woman
The Monarch too started as part of the Royal Caribbean Fleet, when she was known as Monarch of the Seas respectively, while the Horizon previously belonged to Royal Caribbean subsidiary Celebrity Cruises and was known as the Celebrity Horizon.
The Monarch of the Seas was also built at the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard. She was the first major cruise ship in the world to be captained by a woman, the Swede, Karin Stahre-Janson who later commanded two other Royal Caribbean ships, Serenade of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.
The Monarch arrived in Aliaga on July 15.