In scenes that will break many a heart among classic cruise ship enthusiasts, Fred Olsen’s vintage liner Boudicca was run up onto the beach this week to be cut up and sold for scrap.
Boudicca’s final voyage to the scrapyard capped a venerable career, during which the ship sailed many millions of miles under the ownership of seven different cruise lines and carried ten different names.
She was launched in 1973 as Royal Viking Sky for the luxury cruise line Royal Viking Line, and was sold 18 years later to become Sunward of Norwegian Cruise Line.
During her time with Royal Viking Line, the ship became one of the first to undergo the increasingly popular refit practice of lengthening, in which the vessel is cut in half, a mid-section is inserted, and then the three blocks are welded back together.
The new 30-metre mid-section increased her passenger capacity by 400 to 900, and the additional 7,000-gross tons provided her with more public rooms and amenities. A second swimming pool, an enlarged reception area, and new penthouse suites were also added.
Sunward briefly operated as Birka Queen under charter to Birka Cruise, as well as Golden Princess for Princess Cruises.
The ship was then sold to Star Cruises, who renamed her SuperStar Capricorn. In 1998 SuperStar Capricorn was chartered by Star Cruises to Hyundai Merchant Marine, who renamed the ship Hyundai Keumgang for cruises from South Korea to North Korea, but those operations failed in 2001 and she was returned to Star Cruises.
In 2004, the ship was sold to Iberocruceros and renamed Grand Latino for Mediterranean cruising out of Spain. In 2005, she was sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and renamed Boudicca.
Fred Olsen invested significantly in upgrading and renovating the ship, including new engines. In 2018, it sent her back into dry dock for another major refit that was intended to extend her service life for another ten years at least.
All 462 cabins were stripped out and redesigned, along with all her public rooms and dining facilities. However, just two years later the COVID-19 pandemic struck, forcing all the world’s major cruise lines to cease operations globally.
The financial strain of the pandemic forced many to sell older cruise ships, and Boudicca and her fleetmate Black Watch were sold, reportedly to the same buyer (the fate of Black Watch remains unknown).