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.

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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