Former Costa Cruise Ship Next to Arrive at Scrappers
The next classic cruise ship set to arrive at the breakers is a 1990s vintage ship built for Costa Cruises but sold by Carnival Corporation as the corporation accelerated the disposal of older cruise ships during the pandemic. While it continues the trend of disposal of older cruise ships, the former Costa Romantica appears headed not to India but instead to a scrapyard in Pakistan with her beaching expected this week.
The 56,800 gross ton cruise ship was part of the new wave of ships that appeared in the late 1980s and early 1990s designed to build on the earlier efforts to develop the modern cruise industry. She along with her sister ship were among the first modern cruise ships built by Fincantieri as the Italian shipbuilder sought to return its heritage of building passenger ships.
Introduced in 1993, the Costa Romantica was also part of the effort to modernize Italy’s Costa Cruises. The line had been a pioneer in the cruise industry using mostly older ships that had been adapted for cruising. With the company’s first modern newbuilds, the cruise line mixed contemporary Italian styles, and the ships soon became very popular with passengers in part due to their large cabins. They cruised in the Caribbean and Europe and remained part of the company while it expanded under the ownership of Carnival Corporation.
The Costa Romantica underwent a significant modernization and overhaul in 2011 as part of a life extension program designed to update the ship. Beyond the addition of new decks with cabins, they also added balconies to some staterooms and updated her public rooms and amenities. She was relaunched as the Costa NeoRomantica including cruises in the Chinese market.
Her sister ship, the Costa Classica, was the first to leave the fleet in 2018 going to Bahamas Paradise Cruises that still operates her. The Costa NeoRomantica remained popular but was among the ships sold in 2020 as Carnival Corporation sought to dispose of older cruise ships during the pause in operations.
For a time, it appeared that the Costa NeoRomantica had found a new operator after it was announced that she had been sold to Greece’s Celestyal Cruises and renamed Celestyal Experience. The cruise line announced plans for a refurbishment of the ship before planning to start operating her in 2021. The cruise line, however, was only able to operate a limited cruise program in Greece during the summer of 2021, deciding to keep the newly acquired ship idle.
Faced with financial pressures, Celestyal’s parent the Louis Group announced in September that the newly acquired ship had been sold just a year after they had received the ship. Speculation mounted over her destination, but then it was learned that she had been acquired by Beacon and Bay Shipping Services of Dubai. By October, reports surfaced that she was being sold for scrap.
Renamed Antares Experience she left Greece in mid-October with her destination widely believed to be the scrappers in Alang, India. Recently, she has been seen near Pakistan and this week Gadani Ship Breaking Yard, which bills itself as the world's third-largest ship breaking yard, said the cruise ship was due in days at its facilities about 30 miles northwest of Karachi.
The breakers located in India reported this fall that they had set a new record for the number of cruise and passenger ships arriving saying they were expecting at least one more before the end of the year. In total, more than 20 classic cruise ships have now gone to the scrappers since the beginning of the pandemic.
Video courtesy of Gadani Ship Breaking Yard post on social media to show off the fittings they will be selling from the cruise ship.