A Cruise Ship History: Albatros

Albatros

Another victim of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Albatros was retired by Phoenix Reisen.

After enjoying a 15-year career with the German tour operator, the 1973-built vessel was sold to a new operator.

It is now set for a new life as a hotel ship in the Middle East.

One of the three original Royal Viking Line vessels, the Albatros has also spent time sailing for Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Cruise Line and more:

1970: Established as a luxury cruise brand, Royal Viking Cruises orders three ships at the Wartsila Helsinki Shipyard.

1973: Concluding a series of three ships, the Royal Viking Sea enters service. Like its sister vessels, the Royal Viking Sea is 21,847 tons and capacity for 536 passengers.

1983: After ten years in service, the Royal Viking Sea returns to a shipyard to be lengthened in a major refit. At Lloyd Werft, the vessel receives a new 28-meter section that includes new cabins, a second swimming pool, an enlarged restaurant and more. The passenger capacity is increased to 812, while the tonnage goes to 28,518.

1984: Royal Viking Line is acquired by the Kloster Group. The cruise line remains a separated brand with independent management.

1990: Struck by conflicts in the Middle East, Royal Viking Line reports losses of $15 million during the year. Only one of the brand’s vessels generated net earnings, the 1988-built Royal Viking Sun.

1991: After the significant losses in 1990, the Kloster Group decides to reduce Royal Viking’s capacity by 70 percent in 1992. The Royal Viking Sea is to be transferred to Kloster’s premium brand, Royal Cruise Line.

1991: After a $30 million refurbishment, the vessel debuts as the Royal Odyssey in December. The work was carried out in Singapore, with the help of the ship’s crew, in order to cut costs.

1995: In November, Kloster Cruise sells Royal Odyssey along the sister ship Star Odyssey in order to raise cash. Under the agreement, Kloster also charters the ships back for use in its fleet through April 1996.

1996: While the charter agreement is extended, Kloster decides to shut down its Royal Cruise Line brand. As a result, the Royal Odyssey is to be transferred to Norwegian Cruise Line after completing its published itineraries through 1996.

1997: Renamed the Norwegian Star, the ship debuts a new program of seven-night Western Caribbean cruises from Houston.

1998: From December, the Norwegian Star is replaced in Houston by the larger Norwegian Sea.

1999: The Norwegian Star is transferred to Australia to launch Norwegian Capricorn Line. A joint venture between NCL and Australian interests, the brand is aimed at the local market.

2000: The new venture is short lived, and the Norwegian Star is transferred to Star Cruises in November. With a new Norwegian Star entering service for NCL in 2002, the vessel is now called Norwegian Star 1.

2002: Star Cruises decides to return the Norwegian Star 1 to its owners earlier than previously agreed, ending its charter.

2002: The vessel is renamed the Crown and chartered to China’s Crown Investment. The brand plans to use it as a gambling ship in Shanghai.

2003: After another short-lived venture, the former Royal Viking Sea returns to Europe. Spanish Cruise Lines charters it for a season in the Mediterranean, naming the ship Crown Mare Nostrum.  

2004: The Crown is chartered to the German tour operator Phoenix Reisen in a long-term agreement. The vessel was chosen as a replacement for the original Albatros, which was built in 1957. 

2005: From September to December, the new Albatros is extensively rebuilt at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg. 

2008: In November, the ship is sold to MS Albatros Shipping Ltd, but Phoenix Reisen’s charter is kept with no changes.

2011: The Albatros once again arrives in the Lloyd Werft shipyard for a refit. This time, the job comprises technical updates, including the addition of a new bulbous bow.

2020: With COVID-19 cases soaring around the world, Phoenix Reisen is forced to suspend all its cruises. Along with its fleetmates, the Albatros is laid-up in Germany, awaiting a service resumption.

2020: In October, Phoenix Reisen sells the Albatros to Pick Albatros Group, which operates several hotels and resorts in the Egypt. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic and its financial health, the German tour operator said the sale was a tough, but necessary step.

Future: The ship has already departed Germany to be delivered to its new owners. According to Phoenix Reisen, Pick Albatros Group will use the ship as a floating hotel in the Middle East.  

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