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Former SONG OF NORWAY Sold For Scrap

Posted on Tuesday, November 19, 2013 by

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As OCEAN PEARL at Tilbury, days before departing for China. Photo © Peter Knego 2012

The founding ship of the second largest cruise line in the world has been sold for scrap. Built in 1970 for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, the SONG OF NORWAY was a phenomenally popular ship that helped usher in the modern era of cruising.  As built the ship measured 18,853 gross tons when it emerged from the Wartsila shipbuilding yard in Helsinki, Finland.  The demand for cruise berths on the SONG OF NORWAY and her sistership NORDIC PRINCE resulted in them both becoming among the first cruise vessels to be stretched.  A third near-sister SUN VIKING was not expanded.    After the operation, the SONG OF NORWAY re-emerged with a  length of 637 feet and a beam of 79 feet.  The gross tonnage increased to 22,945 tons.  Although eclipsed by newer and much larger ships, Royal Caribbean continued to operate the vessel until 1996 when she was sold to AirTours.  Her post-Royal Caribbean career followed the path of so many aging cruise ships with several name changes and a somewhat troubled existence in her later years.  Over a long career spanning 43 years, she sailed under quite a few other names including SUNDREAM, DREAM PRINCESS, DREAM, CLIPPER PEARL, CLIPPER PACIFIC, FESTIVAL and OCEAN PEARL. Under the name FORMOSA QUEEN for Asia Star Cruises she spent her final active days as a gambling ship.  She had been operated for several years by ISP on a charter basis.   Of all the ships that Royal Caribbean has built over the years, she has the sad distinction of being the first to go to the scrap yard. The sale was confirmed in mid-November and she will be broken up in China during 2014.

It has been a very difficult year for pioneering cruise ships with the loss to breakers of the former SOUTHWARD, PACIFIC PRINCESS and now SONG OF NORWAY. Even ships of newer vintage were not immune, with the 1984-built former FAIRSKY being relegated to scrap.  Many past passengers of Royal Caribbean and the SONG OF NORWAY and her sisters, will no doubt be sad to see her go.  Time has finally caught up with the first sleek cruise ships from the 1970’s.

43 Responses to Former SONG OF NORWAY Sold For Scrap

  1. Michael Bennett

    November 19, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    That breaks my heart. SON was the very first cruise ship I went on, in 1974. I can safely say that it changed my life and started my obsession with ships. Sailed on NORDIC PRINCE and SUN VIKING too but it wasn’t the same as the “first time”.

  2. Allan

    November 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I don’t think she ever sailed as the Formosa Queen. She went over there a year plus ago and they had this grand refit plan including a dome over the pool but she just sat in the shipyard.

  3. Deborah L. D'Ambrosi

    November 19, 2013 at 6:31 pm

    This is so sad, she was my first 7 day cruiser. :( :( :( :(. Peter, did you sail on her and did you get photos of her interiors?

  4. Peter Knego

    November 19, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    Hi Deborah, visited her three times and took many photos over the years. Spent a day on her at Tilbury last year just before she left for China. No time to post photos at present but may do a gallery or a short blog at some point soon in her memory. — Peter

  5. Steve/ETA

    November 19, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    The Song and her sister Nordic were fantastic ships of their time. Spent 2 years as part of the cruise staff and recall some incredible times on her. One of the first sleek ships ever built. Wish I was able to get a part of her before China gets their hands of her to scrap. Wish her a peaceful journey into a memory for all.

  6. Alan Dumelow

    November 20, 2013 at 12:50 am

    This is a blow out of the blue: MyShip Sundream was beautiful. Makes me wonder if sister MyShip Carousel / Ocean Star Pacific is next for the chopping block as she’s been laid up at Mazatlan two years since the e/r fire onboard. Then that just leaves the third sister Oriental Dragon ex Sun Viking. There was a raft of them went to Chinese buyers (including Ocean Dream ex Spirit of London and the unique China Star ex Radisson Diamond), but they just disappear and we only hear about them when they go to scrap. Now the official grapevine says Saga Ruby and Fuji Maru are destined for China. Never to be seen again? It’s all very very sad.


    November 20, 2013 at 2:08 am

    sad to hear such a glory ”Sun Dream’ having been sent to scrap now. ı did work on her as a part of the Photog team for a couple of seasons and she did take us to various ports at times and we sure made good friends on her… just brought back the good memories even on her way down.

  8. Rod

    November 20, 2013 at 3:21 am

    I have fond memories of Sundream, having celebrated my 60th Birthday on board off the North Cape in 2000. The sun was shining for me at midnight. From then on I was hooked on cruising and have just returned from my 46th cruise. I have also sailed on Carousel so expect to hear the worst about her being scrapped soon.

  9. geoff

    November 20, 2013 at 4:48 am

    yes very sad we sailed on her as Sundream under captain Ger Larsson in may 2000 from Southampton
    happy days

  10. Kenneth Eden

    November 20, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Sad, yes, a real tragedy for many, having yet another “contemporary” ship gone, one that brings back those days of our younger years, sad for those of us that sailed in them not merely blabbering on about something never sampled first hand. I sailed the NORDIC PRINCE on a 14 day cruise back in the 1980’s. My how Royal Caribbean has grown in over four decades. Seems like only yesterday.

    So familiar were the Royal Caribbean ships in the Caribbean with other lines that helped to build the industry as we see it today and for tomorrow.

    It is interesting that so many of these former-state-of-the-art glamour ships were sold or chartered and lived long sea lives, rather than having the scrapper take them from their original owners. Gaming ship seems to be the first clue to the ultimate demise before the final end, can gone to China be another clue to the end?

    Sadness will be coming more frequently to be sure, as more and more of the maverick cruise ships we sailed and loved so dearly are one by one readied for the crapper, not a typo, missing the “s” seems perfectly acceptable.

  11. Joe Sturges

    November 20, 2013 at 6:38 am

    Very sad that one of the early pioneers of modern cruising goes up on the beach. These ships were cutting edge in their day and turned a lot of people on to cruising as a vacation mode. Also, it’s hard to believe that 43 years have passed since 1970!!!

    She and others of her vintage looked like real ships. It’s hard to say that about the mega-cruisers of today.

    Long live SONG OF NORWAY!

  12. Kurt Ove Pedersen

    November 20, 2013 at 7:29 am

    My heart is crying. Song of norway was my first ship in my life as a sailor. I was onboard in 1983. Fantastic ship.

  13. Sailor

    November 20, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Sure, these ships bring memories for those who sailed on them as crew and guest’s. However, these ships are no longer able to stand up to new safety, environmental and other requirement’s. Ther fore it is just correct to take them out of service.

  14. Kenneth Eden

    November 20, 2013 at 10:37 am


    Perfectly said. No other way to put it.

  15. Rob

    November 20, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    I’m not as sad about this one, somehow. Classic ocean liners, yes, Pacific Princess and Italia, sure, but the early Royal Caribbean ships really weren’t paragons of fine craftsmanship. Thin bulkheads, cheap fittings, plain public rooms, they were sort of a Motel 6 to Royal Viking’s Grand Hyatt. Really, its a credit that they lasted this long, since they always seemed as if they were practically disposable from new.

    A lot of these 1970s era cruise ships were just so far inferior to the great ocean liners of the previous decade.Now, if/when Saga Ruby heads off to the breakers, that’s when I’ll get upset.

  16. Alan Mackenzie

    November 21, 2013 at 3:51 am

    Sad as it is, for those who sailed in them as passengers and served in them as ship’s company, to see these early 1970s ships depart the scene, it should be remembered that the vast majority had very long lives. At 40-years-plus (some of them), they far outlasted many of the earlier generation of liners which, often, were better and heavier built and far more comfortably finished and fitted out, but became obsolete before their time thanks to the decline in traditional liner trades and their fuel-hungry turbine machinery.

    Notable exceptions to this trend were, of course, the lovely Canberra, in service for 36 years, QE-2, 39 years and Norway (ex France)at about 44 years.

    Set against these few “trend-buckers”, however, are beautiful vessels such as the traditional P&O-Orient Line mail ships such as Oriana, Iberia, Orsova, Himalaya, Chusan, Arcadia, Orcades and Oronsay, all of which disappeared between the extremely young age of 18 at one extreme, up to 26 years at the other.

    No, 40-plus years is a good life for any passenger vessel.

  17. Kenneth Eden

    November 21, 2013 at 3:55 am

    Did it ever occur to some that the SONG OF NORWAY, as well and NORDIC PRINCE and SUN VIKING were of the near age as the ROYAL VIKING SUN, SEA and SKY, with four of these six ships stretched, and two not, that these ships have indeed served as long as can be served, so it seems, well past the 1970’s era of their maiden, with one niche cruise line proudly and caringly sailing two Royal Viking ships to this very day? If one cares to go back in time, NCL ships have also served over four decades as well.

    Tell us, Rob, what you found to be so cheap with Royal Caribbean compared to Royal Viking when you sailed the two cruise lines?

  18. Alan Dumelow

    November 22, 2013 at 1:08 am

    But there is “life after death” (I personally hope). And for old girls . No, not you dear; I mean old passenger ships, like Queen Mary, Rotterdam, hopefully Kungsholm, maybe The Big U. We live in hope.
    And it’s strange or remarkable that series ships last well and prove the exception to the rule. The wonderful Cunard quads’ Carinthia (1957) did the cruise industry proud for over 50 years until 2005. And the multi-purpose (troopship) Russian series’ Marco Polo (1965) sails on into 2015 (and beyond?). Long live the dodo.

  19. mark skipper

    November 22, 2013 at 4:52 am

    How Sad – She was my first ship as crew and was forever getting lost ! I was late for work twice and really struggled to find my cabin at the shift. Passengers were amazing and crew great ….. sleep tight SON x

  20. Kenneth Eden

    November 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

    Let’s talk cheap here.

    The “twin” sisters, CUNARD ADVENTURER and CUNARD AMBASSADOR were they supposed to be replacement’s – for previous Cunard ship in her day. Well, they were not.

    The poor old AMBASSADOR was truly a cheap piece of ship, when I sailed her from Boston on her maiden season to Bermuda, brand new ship, she screamed cheap, outside, flimsy railings, was it teak or pine deck – was wood, but looked and felt like something other than teak, flimsy funnel – everything about the ship was cheap, YET the AMBASSADOR had better food than the QE2. Inside this little thing was the epitome of cheap, tons of white plastic, plastic. And that horrid red upholstery. Terrible fire on this poor thing, spent her days ferrying cattle, four footed ones.

    ADVENTURER seems to have been better off, lots of new names, now with Louis Cruises.

  21. Alan Dumelow

    November 23, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Hi Ken. It is generally agreed that, following Trafalgar House’s purchase of Cunard in 1971, the AMBASSADOR and ADVENTURER were acquired as replacements for the beautiful old CARMANIA and FRANCONIA. However, the replacements were not designed by or built for Cunard. The company acquired them from Overseas National Airways’ subsidiary. Then they were superseded by COUNTESS and PRINCESS (both still alive and kicking). Interestingly, in 1993, the latter was transferred to Cunard Crown Cruises to join the inherited CUNARD COWN MONARCH (now Voyager), CUNARD CROWN JEWEL (now Gemini tbr Eureka by Cruise Retirement Ltd), and CUNARD CROWN DYNASTY (now Braemar).
    It is interesting to ponder what ships Cunard would be operating now if they hadn’t been swallowed up by Mr Carnival.

  22. Kenneth Eden

    November 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

    Hi Alan

    It is true that AMBASSADOR and ADVENTURER were in service, and perhaps for all intents and purposes, they filled a void, a gap, needed to maintain the fleet – the new face of the cruise ship was fairly new, and they all seemed to follow the same plan, less and smaller is more? Cheaper is better than spending more. Who knows.

    Regarding Cunard and what may possibly be a “love hate relationship” with Carnival, is it enough to say that Cunard is lucky to have the QUEEN ELIZABETH and QUEEN VICTORIA, two very large cruise ships, even for Cunard, comparing to CARONIA, FRANCONIA and CARMANIA, and the prize of them all, the largest and most prestigious ocean liner ever built, QUEEN MARY 2 – ok naysayers, if you have not sailed her, what might you have to say?

  23. Deborah L. D'Ambrosi

    November 30, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Peter, I’ll keep an eye out for your gallery.

  24. Kalle Id

    November 30, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Alan: I have to point of the Cunard didn’t “inherit” the CROWN MONARCH, CROWN JEWEL and CROWN DYNASTY; rather, these ships joined the Cunard fleet because Cunard and EffJohn (the owners of Crown Cruise Line at the time) entered a partnership where EffJohn chartered the ships and gave the right to use the Crown Cruise Line name (as Cunard Crown Cruise Line) to Cunard. The partnership didn’t last long, as just a few years later EffJohn decided to pull out of cruise business entirely. They had never managed to make any of their three cruise brands (Crown, Commodore and Europe Cruise Line) profitable. During the 80s and 90s EffJohn’s profitable core business, the Baltic Sea ferry operator Silja Line, had made good profits and supported the loss-making cruise activities, but after 1994 Silja was also in the red – hence EffJohn had cut their losses and they pulled out of both owning and operating cruise ships.

  25. Harald Hauge

    December 1, 2013 at 11:40 am

    Along with many others, SONG OF NORWAY was my first employment with RCCL. Working on board cruiseships shaped me into a cruiseship- and RCCL-Family which I still have strong connections to, even several years after I retired from the company. Thanks a million to SONG OF NORWAY/SON and to all the shipmates and passengers who gave life to all the fantastic memories we all share.

  26. Royston W. Clarke

    February 4, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    “Song of Norway” was the first RCCL ship I sailed on as Hotel Manager in 1985. Such a delight to manage with the Multi National Hotel Staff often reaching more than 40 Nationalities.
    In 1986 she was voted “Ship of the Year” and this accolade, I can assure you, was suitably celebrated. It would be remiss of me not to mention the co-operation received, and pleasure sailing with, the Norwegian Deck and Engine Staff, both Officers and Men.
    I am still, in 2014, in touch with “shipmates” whom I sailed with aboard “Song of Norway”, Nordic Prince”, “Sun Viking” and “Song of America” – good days before the commencement of ships beginning to look like “floating blocks of flats”.
    A sad day receiving the news of her being broken up.

  27. jan melkild

    March 4, 2014 at 8:31 am

    great ship saild on here in he 80 `s as oiler ,motormann and ship mekanic she was my first ship a graith lady hadd much funn on here .
    i sailed on the Nordic Prince sun Viking and Song of America to butt Songen was my favorit.

  28. Don Derby

    March 8, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    It is indeed sad to see the Song of Norway going to scrap. I sailed on her in 1978 (I think) and have fond memories of her. She’s actually the only RCL cruise ship that I’ve sailed on with the rest of my cruises on Princess Cruise Lines. Royal Princess is next on our itinerary to the Eastern Caribbean for 10 days.

  29. Capt. G. Larsen

    March 13, 2014 at 5:19 am

    For Rod and Geoff above. Great, crew, passengers and memories. A fun ship. I commanded the Sundream for over 3 years. Will never forget the 4 great 14 days cruises from Soton to North Cape summer 2000. She will be missed. Sad she is gone.

  30. alan dumelow

    March 14, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Well well: Captain Geir Larson. I have some good news for you. Talking to my Chinese broker just yesterday, and FORMOSA QUEEN
    aka MyShip Sundream is NOT being scrapped. The Chinese cruise scene has taken off and, for the lucky lady, contracts have now been signed to refit and upgrade her. Just sad that her sister is still sitting in Mazatlan, fire damaged, out of Class and nearly out of luck.

  31. Shawn Dake

    March 14, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Alan, I certainly do not mind being proven wrong when there is news like this. When you have additional details about what yard will refurbish her or what Chinese company she will sail for, please let us know with a reply here. Shawn

  32. Jeff Taylor

    March 14, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Sadly her sister is more than nearly out of luck–she’s high and dry and beached at Aliaga.

  33. Peter Knego

    March 15, 2014 at 2:37 am

    OCEAN STAR PACIFIC is at Alang? I haven’t heard anything about her sale or disposal. Can you please elaborate, Jeff? CORA, ex CUNARD ADVENTURER/SUNWARD II/TRITON/CORAL is on the beach at Alang for certain. All the best, Peter

  34. alan dumelow

    March 15, 2014 at 2:56 am

    Peter: I believe Jeff has confused with OCEAN COUNTESS.
    Ocean Spa Specific is still at Mazatlan. The Chinese are inspecting her.

  35. Jeff Taylor

    March 15, 2014 at 6:58 am

    Sorry guys, I was thinking of the Adventurer. Mea Culpa.

  36. Kenneth Eden

    March 15, 2014 at 7:13 am

    This is good news and even better if it comes to pass. It this not like putting a band aid on a severe wound, the end will surely come one day for the ship, and who knows what will happen to it with these new owners. Its just a matter of when.

  37. alan dumelow

    March 16, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Kenneth: It’s “just a matter of when” for all of us. By the way, CLUB HARMONY (ex Costa Marina) popped up on the S&P market last week for US$ 10 million and, yes, already being inspected by TWO Chinese companies.

  38. Pat Thompson

    August 4, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    So sad to see the Song of Norway go. Not only was it our first cruise, but it was our honeymoon trip in June of 1976. I still have my Passenger Landing Card, which lists we were in cabin 694, and it lists our dinner table number 8 on first sitting. As said before, we’ve cruised a lot more ships with RC and other lines, but none were as impressive as our first cruise on this ship. Really great memories, especially the trophy my husband won for the talent show on the last night of the cruise; and the midnight buffet with all the neat dishes and ice sculptures that really blew us away. The new ships offer a lot more amenities these days, but the size, staff and more intimate nature of this ship really can’t be compared. Thanks Royal Caribbean for the great memories!

  39. Mark Savva

    September 3, 2014 at 4:12 am

    I spent two seasons’ 1985/86 on the Song of Norway as a bass player in one of the bands on board. The most amazing time of my life met some fantastic people from all the nationalities represented on board. Very sad to hear that she has sailed for the last time but will forever keep the fantastic memories with me.

  40. Rick Simeone

    March 7, 2015 at 10:18 am

    I have fond memories of the Pearl, having cruised her 4 times with my late wife Ann. On two occasions we took similar cruises, just to visit again certain places and expand on our discoveries. Knowing so many of the crew also expanded on the enjoyment. We knew the Pearl like our own home, and indeed it was for a total of about 50 days in all. I still treasure both the friendships and memories…..The Pearl was one of the few memories my wife took with her when leaving us to Alzheimers. I certainly now miss both ladies.

  41. Norris Adair

    March 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    I sailed on the SON as a musician (with Mark Savva-see above) for a total of 44 cruises.
    It was a beautiful ship despite having no “bells and whistles” that cruisers take for granted these days.
    Passengers were happy just to be on the sea in the sun (Western Caribbean) and were very happy with the food and service. Fun crew!

    I will always have a special place in my heart for her.

  42. Wayne Reed

    June 2, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    The best week of my life also included best day of my life at Cayman Bay on St. Thomas. 19 years old and having the time of my life. It just ended too soon. But there were more cruises to come, but not this good.Wayne Reed

  43. Bill Marasco

    June 3, 2015 at 11:46 am

    To me – pretty much all ships of the 1970 and forward – there is no there. Even Mary 2 is a pale comparison to Betty 2. Now and has been for along time all about the money
    Just my thoughts.

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