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(Un) Happy Cruises Ceases Operations

Posted on Sunday, September 25, 2011 by


The Spanish-based cruise line, Happy Cruises, abruptly ceased operation on September 24th.  During 2011, the troubled company grew to a three ship fleet with the addition of the chartered 21,884 gross ton HAPPY DOLPHIN (ex ORIENT VENUS, DELPHIN VOYAGER, HAINEN EMPRESS) in May. The ship had most recently sailed a Chinese charter. Along with their other two ships, the 19,093 gross ton, 1992-built  GEMINI (ex CROWN JEWEL, SUPERSTAR GEMINI) and the 22,945 gross ton, 1970-built OCEAN PEARL (ex SONG OF NORWAY, SUNDREAM, DREAM PRINCESS, DREAM, CLIPPER PEARL, CLIPPER PACFIC, FESTIVAL), the company had hopes of  carrying up to 100,000 passengers a year.  The latter two ships were operating under charters arranged by International Shipping Partners (ISP) that were set to expire later this year. They also were promoting cruises on “partner lines” many of which actually were Scandinavian ferries.

GEMINI (ex CROWN JEWEL, SUPERSTAR GEMINI) at Stavanger, Norway, July 14, 2011. Photo by Gerd Fahrenhorst, Wikipedia Commons License

The OCEAN PEARL was originally constructed as the first vessel for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.  The GEMINI began her career with the now defunct Crown Cruise Line but became best known for her tenure with Star Cruises.  The recently-added HAPPY DOLPHIN was built for Venus Cruise which was a division of Japan Cruise Line.  Happy Cruises had competed for  Spanish clientele against Pullmantur Cruises, a division of Royal Caribbean and Ibero Cruceros, a division of Carnival Corporation.


The company had previously operated under the name Quail Cruises but ran into trouble during 2009 when the PACIFIC (ex. SEA VENTURE, PACIFIC PRINCESS) was seized. It is highly unlikely this Spanish-based line will rise from the ashes for a third time.  The GEMINI and OCEAN PEARL are terminating their current voyages at Valencia and Malaga in Spain with HAPPY DOLPHIN ending in Venice, Italy.


41 Responses to (Un) Happy Cruises Ceases Operations

  1. Kalle Id

    September 25, 2011 at 1:12 am

    Well, that was certainly a bit unexpected. The company seemed to be doing well, particularly when taking into account the expansion of their fleet and opening up new traffic areas (the delightful GEMINI was a common visitor in Helsinki this sumer) but apparently then not all was well behind the scenes. A shame… but it will be interesting to see where Happy Cruises’ ships will end up not.

  2. Philippe BREBANT

    September 25, 2011 at 1:19 am

    I saw the GEMINI while she was calling Le Havre last Wednesday.
    This ship with the HAPPY DOLPHIN would suit Louis operations which are currently looking at mid-sized vessels to replace older ships. Unlikely the former RCCL SONG OF NORWAY will be sent somewhere else begining to be too old of any European operator.

  3. Kenneth Eden

    September 25, 2011 at 5:40 am

    I wonder who “those/these” people are that seemingly think that they can either buy – lease – or charter a cruise ship, or ships, and make it work. It truly amazes me.

    I have seen this play out all too many times, and the result seems to always be the same, poof, closed up, out of business!

    I care about the safety, or lack of, and of the very financial footing that would make these- as they do seem “fly by night” jury rigged cruise lines operable.

    It is always the same old scenario, an old cruise ship, some come with a lot of “baggage”, and for me, as for many of the readers here, a love of the very ships that are involved with these so called cruise lines.

    I suppose any form of contract that keeps the ships sailing staves off the eventual, so, that may well be the good thing. But, come on, who would sail on a product called “Happy Cruises?”

  4. Patricia Dempsey

    September 25, 2011 at 6:54 am

    Another small company goes to the wall and Delphin Voyager sailed for both. Glad I managed to see Gemini in Bergen 2 months ago.

  5. Dimitrios G. Chandris

    September 25, 2011 at 11:33 am

    Its not surprising that they closed down. Its sad but not expected. In todays oligapolistic mature cruise industry, the only way for a new cruise venture to succeed is have very deep pockets (like MSC) or to meet a niche market demand (like Star Clipper or Seadream) Lets not forget that Carnival and RCCL control up to 75% of world’s gross tonnage. Carnival alone has 100 ships and 8 brands. The economies of scale that these two companies have are enormous! Gone are the growth years of the 70s, 80s and early 90s where the probabilities and rates of returns were alot higher for startups.

  6. soedergren

    September 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Two things… at the moment the company has not declared bankruptcy but only ceased operations *temporarily*. A final decision will be made during a meeting of the board of directors and some investors on Monday.

    Second, the “partner lines” where not partners of Happy Cruises, which only had a Spanish web site, but of their (independent) European GSA, which also represents a number of other companies. This, however, has nothing to do with Happy Cruises/ Quail Travel.

  7. unhappycrew

    September 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

    ITF Please come to our aid,please help us get back home.the company owed the crew wages from July 2011.

  8. Michael

    September 26, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    It’s sad to see another cruise line hit the dust. First Discover cruise lines basied out of Port Everglades now HCL? :(

  9. San Francisco Reader

    September 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    It is interesting how traditional and streamlined the 1970 Song of Norway looks today compared with the new mega barge/box style ships, yet at the time it seemed radically different.

  10. Crew Travel

    September 26, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Please have the stranded crew email Marta and Cheryl at crewtravel1@yahoo.com for flights returning home.

    September 26, 2011 at 7:15 am

    ITF Please come to our aid,please help us get back home.the company owed the crew wages from July 2011.

  11. Cherryl Lopes

    September 26, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Please pay the crew their salaries and send them home as soon as possible, we, the family members are very tense about their safety.

  12. Don Hargreaves

    September 27, 2011 at 12:29 am

    What happens to the money that many people will have paid in advance to travel agents for places on Quail ships? All the talk is about the failure of the company. Most important are the clients who have paid for their holiday of a lifetime and may end up with nothing and not have the resources to pay for an alternative. Shame.

  13. Unhappycrew

    September 27, 2011 at 2:13 am

    What will happen to us who have taken loan and joined this Happy cruise? Some of us have recently joined,what r we suppose to do ? Unpredictable suituation.ITF please come to our RESCUE

  14. soedergren

    September 28, 2011 at 12:56 am

    @Don Hargreaves… Happy Cruises has already started sending refunds to the travel agents on Monday. We are a travel agengy outside of Spain and have already received our customers’ money. The company has not failed (yet), they are currently negotiating with the owners of the ships and some new investors. Even if a tour operator fails in Spain, the customer’s money is relatively safe, as every Spanish tour operator must be part of a guarantee fund of the Spanish Ministry of Economics.

  15. crewmember

    September 28, 2011 at 2:31 am

    Don Hargreaves, u spoke only of the customer but what about us the crew members working on board who have not received our salary for months?

  16. Pip & Ken

    September 28, 2011 at 5:25 am


    ITF link is above. I am contacting ITF in London for you. You need to contact Spain ITF. My Son is on Ocean Pearl. Whatever you do
    DO NOT LEAVE THE SHIP. If you leave, you will have lost all rights to any money that is owed to you. The ITF will send an inspector who will negotiate for you, ITF will repatriate you I think, and then if they do not pay you, ITF will sue the pigs.


  17. Des Johnson

    September 29, 2011 at 2:50 am

    So sad to hear the problems of happy cruises. My wife and i had a wonderful holiday sailing around the Greek islands on The Happy Dolphin earlier this year. The crew were fantastic and I wish them the very best for the future

  18. Kalle Id

    September 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Reportedly ISP are now offering the GEMINI and OCEAN PEARL for sale or charter, which would seem to indicate that Happy Cruises are unlikely to return from their slump. (Except of course with the possibility of restarting with the Happy Dolphin).

  19. gabriela

    September 30, 2011 at 9:10 am

    What about the crew members guys???!!! I don’t know anything about my sister for days and she is onboard Gemini….they are at sea for 6 days already with no hope to get into to a port soon, the food is running out, they didn’t get paid for 4 months already and they are abandonned at sea….nobody knows if they going to get flight tickets home at least….but whatever you do guys, DON’T GET OFF THE SHIP WITHOUT YOUR MONEY!!!!!

  20. unhappycrew

    October 3, 2011 at 6:51 am

    @Crew Travel, why don’t you check your crew headcount list? no need for the crew to email whoever.It is your duty to process our travel documents and give us our salaries and ticket back to our country.do this as soon as possible. ITF please help expedite the solution in this dilemma of Happy Cruises.

  21. crewmember - URGENT HELP

    October 3, 2011 at 10:41 pm

    ITF pls don’t believe the owner, but would request you to check with the crew for the extact suituation of us. We are anxiously awaiting to get out of this mess. We had come to earn our daily bread but ended up in mess. We expect help from you to get us out of this with ticket as well as hard earned wages.The guests had good time with our service,the company earned from the guest but we only gave our blood to work hard. In return what are we getting now? What is our family getting now? Tension, depression , isolation , don’t know when we will get our wages and when we would be united with our family.PLEASE PLEASE HELP US

  22. Annie

    October 4, 2011 at 1:16 am

    There are 2 ships currently in Gibraltar Port. Gemini and Pearl.

    I have seen the crew in town, so they must be getting shore leave, hope they manage to work things out and get paid and sent home to their countries.

  23. Kenneth Eden

    October 4, 2011 at 5:08 am


    We tend to think about the ship(s) in question when a cruise line fails, and what will happen to the former ship(s) they leased or chartered. We also hear from passengers that were “robbed” of deposit(s) or cruise fare. This happened to us and we were shocked, afterall, Commodore Cruises was around a long time, had an enviable rep and poof, they were gone, along with $2,000.00 deposit we had with them.

    The crew. This is a sad part of the cruise line going bust. The crew gets stranded, they are stuck, and mostly cries are for what will become of the ship(s). The crew is the main backbone for any ship, the ship the vehicle for travel. The crew may not think that a cruise lines name is silly, even stupid, Happy, Quail, as well as others in the near and distant past. Its the crew that needs to be taken care of, as the greed of the ships company most obviously could care less about them. We should care.

  24. Happy Cruises Crew Member

    October 5, 2011 at 7:07 am

    Please people dont forget that we are people who are suffering greatly for the mistakes these people made. The only mistake we as crewmembers made was joining this waste of a company. They owe us 4 months of wages on the “Happy Dolphin” and they have no end in sight! We only want to go home with what our “contract” says and get on with our lifes. please reasers help us get back to our families. Write to the ITF and ask them to expedite our desparate situation. I have a new son on the way and I dont know if I will make his birth because of this company.

  25. Unhappycrew

    October 6, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    ISP please get us out of this place and send us home by paying our salary and give us our ticket. How long are we as suppose to go on like this. Our family back home are very tense and depress. Are we going to get paid for the mental and emotional torture that we are going thru?
    Instead of keeping us like this at the port pls pls give our ticket and salary and send us home as soon as possible. ITF PLEASE HELP US.

  26. Ex happycrisis

    October 8, 2011 at 2:36 am

    No more Happy Cruises,or Happy Crisis,no more happy only sad people who embarked to do some money and the spanish people bloow us away because they dont like to pay the taxes.SPANISH MAFIA. Every day lies,thats the only thing they know to do and the others are suffering the consequencess.Destroyer of thowsons of peoples dreams.

  27. Chris

    October 11, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Just returned from a cruise with P&O that took in Gibraltar. There, we saw two Happy Cruise ships, the Gemini being one, with a tender next to it. We were told that all passengers had been taken care of, in terms of getting them home, but the crew were left unpaid and we presume they’re still living onboard.

  28. Unhappy Crewmember

    October 12, 2011 at 1:51 am

    ISP how long will it take you’ll to get us home ? What is going on in the company that we are held up at Gibraltar? Are we orphan? Do you’ll understand the tension our families are having back home? If any of our family take seriously ill, will you shoulder the responsibility? Whatever the internal problems the company is having but the crew members shouldn’t be treated so badly. For no reason we are held up on board at Gibraltar port. At times our tickets are booked and cancel at the last moment,we still don’t know the reason. Can the ITF official look into the matter , PLEASE we need your urgent help. HELP HELP HELP IS NEED TO GET OUR SALARY AND OUR TICKET TO RETURN HOME.

  29. crewmember - URGENT HELP

    October 12, 2011 at 4:30 am

    ISP when are we going to get back to our family members? We had been given tickets and were suppose to reach home on 10th October but reasons best known to the company our tickets were cancelled at the last moment? PLEASE ITF HELP US. PLEASE HELP HELP US TO GET OUR SALARY AND TICKET,so that we can go home instead of getting depress at Gibraltar port past 18days

  30. Kenneth Eden

    October 12, 2011 at 10:08 am

    This stranding of the crew, here and with other failed cruise line companies, is sad, it truly is.

    Isn’t there any organization that can help these poor souls with some solace? These men and women took these jobs for the money, usually to help their families in a long off country, I doubt they took them for the love of cruises.

    Is there anyway regulated law or tribunal that can assure them of their rights? Maybe this should be shoved into SOLAS, as the crew is a major factor in the safety of life, theirs and passeengers, at sea.

  31. Kalle Id

    October 13, 2011 at 8:42 am

    I strongly support mr Eden’s idea of SOLAS-guaranteed rights for the crews (no doubt this would be difficult to pass as it would undoubtedly be labelled as socialism and as we all know, any and all forms of socialism are bad).

    An important question in this particular case, did Happy Cruises crew their ships themselves or did the owners of the ships (ISP in case of the GEMINI and OCEAN PEARL) provide the crews? In the latter case there should not be any problems, as ISP is operating normally. And yet it seems this is a problem for ISP, who already some time ago stated they would be getting everyone home by a charter aeroplane if nescessary.

  32. Unhappycrew - URGENT HELP

    October 13, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    “And yet it seems this is a problem for ISP, who already some time ago stated they would be getting everyone home by a charter aeroplane if nescessary.” Kalle Id u r right. ISP did give this statement but unfortunately the owner is saying and they are informing the ITF that they are having Immigration problem for Indian and Columbian crew. I don’t how far it is true. Since 8th October’2011 they are giving this reason for keeping the crew at Gibraltar port.Also they are suppose to pay them full contract salary but i doubt whether they will do it? If any news don’t pass it. Thanks for the support

  33. GREGG

    October 20, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    Doesnt this company own the Pacific? ex pacific princess. Now we are in for a disappointing end..
    funny how they could obtain newer vessels but not upgrade the Pacific.

  34. Thomas S Wissmann

    November 8, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Does anybody know where the Happy Dolphin is now and what the situation is? We may have a new solution with one of our clients.

  35. Richard Bond

    November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    The ISP-USA website indicates that only the Ocean Pearl remains unchartered at this time.

  36. Glenn Paull

    November 17, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    The high fixed costs associated with the cruise ship lines make it all but impossible for small companies to compete – unfortunate but true.

  37. Ralph Teutsch

    November 17, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    According to Cruise Industry News the Happy Dolphin was leased from Restise Management, not ISP, which in fact doesn’t mention it on its website, so Mr. Bond’s inference that it has been rechartered doesn’t follow.

  38. J Ng

    November 23, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Does anybody know where are the 3 vessels are now? I have interested investors looking to charter or purchase.

  39. Kalle Id

    November 23, 2011 at 9:28 am

    HAPPY DOLPHIN is currently in Perama, GEMINI and OCEAN PEARL arrived in Tilbury a month ago and haven’t moved to the best of my knowledge.

  40. cristina

    December 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    did the crew received their salaries and tickets to get back home?

  41. john rey

    June 17, 2012 at 1:16 am

    watch out quail cruises/happy cruises is coming back soon. New investors are in final talks with the owner.

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