The former Portuguese state yacht turned cruise ship, MV Funchal, formerly operating for Classic International Cruises before its bankruptcy in 2011, is to be towed to Liverpool to begin her new life as a floating hotel.
Funchal has been in cold lay-up for more than four years after undergoing a major SOLAS 2010 refit and refurbishment in 2013 under Portuscale Cruises ownership, but that cruise line also went into insolvency in 2015, leaving the fate of the little ocean liner uncertain.
However, it was reported last year that UK property development company Signature Living had purchased the ship at auction for US $4.4-million. At the time, the company said it planned to turn the ship into a floating hotel in London.
After making the final payment on the ship, Signature Living has announced that they will tow Funchal to Liverpool, where she will be refurbished for her new role before finding a suitable location in the UK.
London has not yet been confirmed, but is still rumoured to be one of the preferred locations. Signature Living had initially intended to base the ship in Ibiza as a floating party platform, but those plans have now changed.
“Their plans have changed again and they will not be locating her in Ibiza as previously reported,” a source familiar with the situation reportedly said.
The 1961-built ship is one of the last true ocean liners left intact and the last of a proud line of Portuguese passenger liners operated by Empresa Insulana de Navegação in the 60s and 70s.
Signature Living’s website indicates that the company specializes in party hotels and avant-garde party venues, suggesting the cruise ship turned hotel Funchal might serve as a major nightlife spot in whichever UK port she’s eventually sent to, similar to the former tender ship MV Cill Airne in Dublin, Ireland.
For years the risk of being sold for scrap has hung over the ship, just as it did for her more famous ocean liner fleetmates QE2 and Rotterdam before they too were spared.
It’s unclear what changes will be made to the vessel to prepare her for life as a permanently berthed hotel ship, but hopefully her lifeboats will be spared, along with her engine room.