Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review: Voyages To Antiquity / Ocean Star Cruises / Ola Cruises / Abou Mehri / Quark Expeditions

Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s
Cruise Ships 2012, The Year In Review


AEGEAN ODYSSEY at Sorrento, photo © Peter Knego 2011

Voyages To Antiquity is expanding beyond its traditional Mediterranean base with the 11,563 gross ton AEGEAN ODYSSEY (ex NARCIS, ALKYON, AEGEAN DOLPHIN, AEGEAN 1). During the winter season the ship will offer 17 to 22-day cruise-tours in India and Southeast Asia. This 461 foot long, 378-passenger ship was originally built in 1973 as a ro-ro ferry before being extensively rebuilt as a cruise ship first in 1988 and again in 2009.

OCEAN STAR PACIFIC (Shown here as Louis Cruises' AQUAMARINE) off Mykonos.  Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2010.

OCEAN STAR PACIFIC (Shown here as Louis Cruises’ AQUAMARINE) off Mykonos. Photo © Peter Knego 2010.

Ocean Star Cruises managed to last just over a year with their cruises based in Acapulco, Mexico on the 1971-built veteran OCEAN STAR PACIFIC (ex NORDIC PRINCE, CAROUSEL, ARIELLE, AQUAMARINE). Last year while on its second voyage the ship was disabled by a generator fire. In July of 2012 new generator problems developed that led the company to take the 23,149 gross ton, 635 foot long ship out of service again. It has since been laid up in Mazatlan. Reports from crew members onboard were that staff had not been paid nor repatriated to their homelands. The ship has been up for sale and a ship management company has expressed interest in operating her in other areas although the Mexican project appears to be over. Once a jewel in the original trio of ships that founded Royal Caribbean Cruises Line, this now 41-year old veteran has fallen on some extremely hard times.

OLA ESMERELDA off Santa Domingo, photo ©

OLA ESMERALDA sheltering from a hurricane off Santa Domingo, photo ©

Ola Cruises the Venezuelan firm that operated the 1966-built OLA ESMERALDA (ex BLACK PRINCE) ceased operations in October. The hotel group SAVECA had acquired the 471-passenger, 11,209 gross ton ship from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in October, 2009. The ship which is not SOLAS 2010 compliant, will eventually be sold for scrap although it may receive a reprieve as a hotel ship at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It remained there at years end.

Abou Mehri Lines based in Beirut, Lebanon acquired the 1989-built ORIENT QUEEN II (ex SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, VISTAMAR after the charter to Plantours ended. The 385 foot long ship was built in 1989 and carries 290 passengers, with a gross tonnage of 7,478 tons, considerably smaller than their previous 728-passenger ORIENT QUEEN (ex STARWARD, BOLERO) chartered from Louis Cruise Lines.

Quark Expeditions took over operations of the 8,282 gross ton OCEAN DIAMOND (ex BEGONIA, EXPLORER STARSHIP, SONG OF FLOWER, LE DIAMANT) with a November 3rd inaugural voyage to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica. The ship is being chartered from International Shipping Partners and carries 189-passengers in relative luxury to exotic destinations.


Shawn Dake is a freelance photo-journalist and regular contributor to For more than a decade he has written his annual “Cruise Ships, The Year In Review” which has now grown to a nearly 15,000 word essay recalling all of the events that have taken place within the cruise industry the previous year.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

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.
Shawn Dake
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