In a widely expected move, Royal Caribbean International has confirmed the sale of its two oldest cruise ships, Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.
The two ships will leave the Royal Caribbean fleet at the end of the month, according to the cruise line, but appear due to remain in cruise service with the new owner.
Royal Caribbean said in a press release that both ships have been sold to an “undisclosed party, based in Asia-Pacific, that will release details for future sailings at a later time.”
With a spate of cruise ships having already been sold or scrapped amid the pandemic, and the global cruise shutdown ongoing into 2021, it was widely expected that Empress and Majesty of the Seas’ days were numbered.
The world’s three largest cruise companies, Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, have all slimmed down their fleets as they seek to cut costs and make the companies more efficient.
With newer, larger cruise ships under construction, Royal Caribbean needs to free up capacity, while also ensuring that it is making the greatest profit possible from each vessel.
The cruise line has previously indicated that its newer ships are better-suited to the demands of social distancing, for example, than the older vessels.
“Saying goodbye to these two beloved ships is a major moment in Royal Caribbean’s history – one that is difficult but necessary,” the cruise line said in a statement.
“With plans for new, innovative ships to join our fleet in the upcoming years, we look forward to our guests and crew continuing to make new memories with us,” it added.
Royal Caribbean executives also released statements marking the end of the ships’ careers with the cruise line.
“After more than 30 years with Royal Caribbean, our beloved Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas will be leaving our fleet,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International, who was part of the crew on Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas.
“No doubt, they will be dearly missed – they may be small, but their lasting impact is mighty,” he added, calling the decision a “difficult, but necessary” one.
Bayley further confirmed that the current crew assigned to the two ships would be retained aboard other vessels in the fleet.
Royal Caribbean has not said whether it will be selling any additional vessels. Carnival Corporation has earmarked 18 of its ships for sale or scrapping, across its nine brands.