HAPPY DOLPHIN (ex ORIENT VENUS, DELPHIN VOYAGER, HAINEN EMPRESS)
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.
OCEAN PEARL (ex SONG OF NORWAY, SUNDREAM, DREAM PRINCESS, DREAM, CLIPPER PEARL, CLIPPER PACFIC, FESTIVAL), courtesy Happy Cruises
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.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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