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Posted on Monday, April 9, 2012 by

Left, GEMINI and right, OCEAN PEARL, at Tilbury. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2012.

On a cold, drizzly day at Tilbury (near London), U.K., crews aboard two white cruise ships were busy readying each for her new career venture.  At Berth 39, the 1992-built, 19,093 gross ton, 966 passenger GEMINI (ex CROWN JEWEL, CUNARD CROWN JEWEL, SUPERSTAR GEMINI, VISION STAR), was being prepped for a charter to take place mid-July to mid-August this year as workers’ accommodation at the London Olympics.

MV OCEAN PEARL, stil rakish, at Tilbury. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2012.

Meanwhile, across the slip at Pier 31, the sleek, 1970-built OCEAN PEARL, was readying for a thirty night delivery voyage via Suez to Guangzhou, China, where the vessel will be converted for use as a five star casino ship.  The OCEAN PEARL is the former SONG OF NORWAY, the first ship built for now mega-cruise line Royal Caribbean.  The SONG OF NORWAY was not only of the first modern cruise ships, she was also one of the first to be “stretched” with the insertion of a mid-section in 1978 that increased her original tonnage from 18,418 to 23,005 and capacity from 724 to 1,196.

Cruise ship classic: MV OCEAN PEARL at Tilbury. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2012.

SONG OF NORWAY was sold by RCI in 1996 and sailed as Airtours SUNDREAM, Caspi Cruises DREAM PRINCESS, Peaceboat’s CLIPPER PACIFIC and Caspi Cruises FESTIVAL before taking on her current name for a charter to Quail Cruises’ Happy Cruises division in 2010.  When that company went bankrupt in September of 2011, the ship was laid up along with the aforementioned GEMINI and offered for sale.  Peter Knego spent an afternoon aboard the OCEAN PEARL in Tilbury shortly before her scheduled departure and will follow up with a full Sea Treks post in due course.

16 Responses to OCEAN PEARL Sold, GEMINI Chartered

  1. Kenneth Eden

    April 9, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    When the SONG OF NORWAY was brand new, along with NORDIC PRINCE and SONG OF NORWAY, three very modern state of the art ships back then, they were deemed way too modern, afterall, mostly all “cruise ships” were old refitted liners or glorified ferries, and these were brand spanking new and “different” She still looks gorgeous, perhaps the loss of the VIKING CROWN LOUNGE adds to her sleek, raked bow, rounded stern, proper stacked good looks. I prefered the NORDIC PRINCE, filled with beautiful Hatian paintings.

    The JEWEL was another mold breaker, she had a more extensive atrium and boasted some suites with balconies, not that other did not do the same, however, the JEWEL and her other on charter ships, CROWN MONARCH and DYNASTY, were pretty advanced for the ’90’s. I sailed the JEWEL, and missed the Cunard crew that was employed on the CUNARD COUNTESS and PRINCESS.

    Anyway, its nice to see these ships sailing, and I won’t have to endure another singing of “Another one bites the dust”!

  2. Deborah

    April 9, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    I hope Peter got to visit long enough to get interior photos of her. She was my first 7 day cruise to Cozumel, MX, Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman and back to Miami in the early 1980s and I remember where the stretching bulkhead area was..no way you could miss it. Just a wonderful ship.

  3. PR

    April 10, 2012 at 6:32 am

    The only problem for the OCEAN PEARL was the the US Coast Guard stopped her in her tracks in NYC (as Peaceboat) due to hull plating damage (leaks??) and other safety issues.

    Let’s hope she can “sit on the bottom,” when converted,so she does not sink at the dock loaded with Chinese gamblers.

    How do you say “Abandon Ship” in Chinese?????

  4. Phil C

    April 13, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Thanks, Peter. Does anyone know when the Ocean Pearl departs or has she gone already? One ship I really wanted to see.

  5. Michael Bennett

    April 14, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Thanks for keeping up with OCEAN PEARL! As SONG OF NORWAY she was my very first cruise ship, circa 1974.

  6. Paul D

    April 18, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Hi she arrived at Portland this morning around 18/04/2012 7 am, so has not got very far not sure if this was supposed to happen. I hope to find out more later and if still here tomorrow hope to get a photo.

  7. GEOFF

    April 18, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Went on Sundream cruise from southampton in 2000 with captain Gere Larson where is he now?
    he was an excellent host
    ship had troubled times since then
    Also my wife did a Nordic pro=ince cruise from Miami in 1992

  8. Phil C

    April 18, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Thanks, Paul. That is not very far at all. Are there any marine services that Portland specialises in that might be a reason for her call? With her recent incidents one can almost hear the call of the breakers.

    A stunning ship, in my opinion. Just needs the right paint job.

  9. Paul D

    April 18, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    She left Portland around 17.00 on the 18th dest Port Said ETA 28th April.Sorry did not get a image though one of my sources says that she was booked to come in to Portland. Portland Port is an ex Navy base that is a commercial port that has some repair facilities they also do lot of Bunkering. I am sure that when Sun Cruises took over the Ships one of them came to Portland for the change over. Though this was a long time ago. Portland Port have several Cruise Ship Visits this year

  10. Jari Lindgren

    April 30, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Saw her leaving Suez eastbound with ETA 23rd May, as stated above probably Guangzhou, China.

  11. Mike in Cairns

    May 10, 2012 at 6:11 am

    Really enjoyed our first true cruising experiences back in the early 1990’s on Cunard’s Countess followed by the Crown Jewel which paved the way for our desire to become sea rovers

  12. GEOFF

    May 22, 2012 at 3:09 am

    just noticed Ocen Pearl is stationary now at Macau China. Also saw in Ships monthly that they reported a down turn in the chinese gambling cruise market, so maybe the futuer is still uncertain for ex Song of Norway

  13. Paul

    June 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm

    The Song of Norway was the first cruise ship I ever worked on back in 1991. She is also the ship I met my wife Laurie. Had a most wonderful time cruising and working on this beautiful ship.

  14. sally kardes

    June 14, 2012 at 7:47 am

    We took the Song of Norway with another couple in 1989. It was our 25 anniversary and our first cruise. Having been on a few cruises since then we always compare them to this ship. Thinking back to the size of that ship is one of the things that made it special.The teak wood that was polished daily and the other little things that the cruise line did made it a really wonderful trip.

  15. Harry Warticovschi

    November 11, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Do you know who onws the MV Gemini to be able to contact them?

  16. Peter Knego

    November 11, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Hello, Harry. Perhaps you could try International Shipping Partners in Florida. Best, Peter

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