Pandemic forces cruise giant Royal Caribbean to shrink its fleet size

Launched in 1990, Empress of the Seas was the first  ship from any cruise line designed for three- and four-night cruises, with her initial sailings visiting the Bahamas from Miami.

She also made history as the first cruise ship to sail out of Cape Liberty in Bayonne, New Jersey when Royal Caribbean opened the terminal in 2004. Empress was catapulted to centre stage again in 2017, the ship took centre stage again when she set sail Royal Caribbean’s inaugural cruise to Cuba.

Meanwhile Majesty of the Seas was unveiled as the third ship of the Sovereign class and was more than twice the size of the average cruise ship – and the largest in the vacation company’s fleet – when she debuted in 1992. Majesty of the Seas started her career with seven-night Western Caribbean cruises from Miami.

Cruise writer Jane Archer said: “I am sure the writing has been on the wall for these older ships for some time. Covid has simply helped Royal Caribbean make the decision to sell. It is always sad to see ships go but the company has to think where demand and profit will be in the future. Older ships are more expensive to run and don’t command premium fares because people want the big new ships with lots of places to eat, whizzy activities and cabins with balconies. Being able to get fresh air into your cabin is going to be even more popular post-Covid.”

Majesty’s Sovereign class sisters, Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas, left Royal Caribbean’s fleet in 2008 and 2013 respectively. Both ships were recently scrapped and Telegraph cruise expert, Gary Buchanan, believes that Majesty and Empress could also be heading to an early grave.

Mr Buchanan told The Telegraph: “Now past their prime, Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas […] will be heading to Asia and their final port of call may well be the knackers’ yard as the glut in older tonnage on shipbrokers’ registers in the past six months has made vessels such as these a valuable commodity as scrap.”

Royal Caribbean isn’t the only cruise line on a selling spree during the coronavirus crisis. Back in July, Seattle-based Holland America Line announced that four of its 14 ships had been sold while the world’s largest cruise line, Carnival, confirmed that it will be shedding 13 ships from across its fleet. Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises have also slashed their fleet sizes in the wake of the pandemic.

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