The former Sea Princess, which most recently sailed under charter for P&O Australia, has been put into drydock in China for a two-month refit and refurbishment ahead of entering into service with the Chinese cruise brand Foresee Cruises.
The refit of the ship is being undertaken by the Xinya Shipyard, and is the first cruise ship project ever undertaken by the yard, reflecting China’s growing interest in establishing a homegrown cruise ship construction and refit sector to compete with European yards.
The 1998-built vessel will undergo large-scale modification, as well as class work, maintenance and special inspections. Sea Princess was acquired by Sanya International Cruise Development Co. in December 2020 and renamed Dream while in lay-up.
When she was delivered to Sanya International, the ship was renamed again to Charming, and went into dry-dock for a quick turnaround that introduced her new Foresee Cruises livery.
Initial plans were for a May, 2021 debut, but the schedule was thrown off by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis in China. The recent lifting of the ‘zero COVID’ policy, however, has enabled cruise lines to begin plans to reintroduce cruises to and from China.
Upon arrival at the Xinya Shipyard, she appears to have reverted to her previous name, Dream.
Sea Princess was delivered to Princess Cruises in 1998 as the last in a trio of Sun class cruise ships for the line. The 77,000-ton vessel spent the majority of her career sailing for Princess, apart from a temporary spell as the Adonia for P&O from 2003 to 2005.
In late 2017, Sea Princess underwent a major renovation that included the addition of new entertainment and dining options, such as “Movies Under the Stars” on the ship’s main pool deck, and a new LED wall measuring 15 meters wide and nearly 5 meters high at its main theater.
The ship’s youth spaces were also upgraded with immersive activities around nature and other themes, while all cabins received new luxury beds.
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, when Princess Cruises’ parent company Carnival Corporation announced it was shedding as many as 18 vessels from its fleet, Princess Cruises sold the ship.
Sea Princess sailed regularly from Dubai in the UAE as part of her repositioning cruises from her Asia and Australian cruise seasons, and as part of her annual world cruises. She was meant to cruise from Dubai in 2020, but that voyage was cancelled when the global cruise industry went into shutdown.