Oriental Dragon was in-built 1972 for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Thomas Geisendorf picture CC BY 4.0)

Jan 26, 2022 5:59 PM by

The Maritime Government

The following to final of the Sixties purpose-built cruise ships that helped to construct the trendy cruise trade was beached yesterday in Pakistan to be damaged up and recycled. Launched in 1972 because the Solar Viking, the trendy 18,500 gross ton ship was constructed for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and was the final of the primary technology of contemporary cruise ships that helped to create PortMiami and the cruise trip trade.

The third ship constructed for Royal Caribbean, she was ordered when Gotaas-Larsen joined as an investor within the new cruise line alongside Norway’s Wilhelmsen and I. M. Skaugen. The normal Norwegian shipowners had been temped into the cruise enterprise by a younger government, Edwin Stephan who had a imaginative and prescient for the trendy cruise trade. He was growing his idea for “propelled motels” the place the cabins can be standardized for simpler gross sales and smaller to encourage passengers to be on deck and within the lounges and bars. Stephan envisioned cruising specializing in excessive passenger density to create what he referred to as the “quantity economic system market.” He additionally was a pioneer within the fly-cruise market bringing passengers from California on chartered airplanes for his Caribbean cruises.

Royal Caribbean launched in 1970 providing seven-day cruises from Miami aboard the Tune of Norway and adopted in 1971 and 1972 with two extra ships, the Nordic Prince and the Solar Viking crusing on alternating Saturdays from Miami on a 14-day Caribbean loop. The Solar Viking was a barely enhanced design versus the primary two sister ships with extra streamlining and an additional half deck to increase her passenger capability but additionally measured simply 563 toes in size.


Solar Viking arriving within the Port of Miami when she was new within the early Seventies 


Because the cruise trade grew. Royal Caribbean expanded the primary two ships however skipped the reconstruction of the Solar Viking, as an alternative specializing in new ship building. Because the smallest ship of the fleet and the one one with the unique design, she grew to become a pioneer for the corporate working the primary cruises exterior Miami, crusing to Mexico, Alaska, and within the mid-Nineteen Nineties repositioned to Asia.

The Solar Viking grew to become the final of the unique cruise ships to go away Royal Caribbean’s fleet, delivered in 1998 to new homeowners, a start-up Asian cruise firm referred to as Star Cruises. Star nevertheless shortly after accepted a suggestion from Hyundai Service provider Marine Firm. By the 2000s, although she had begun the ultimate part of her profession being bought to a sequence of homeowners that used her as a floating on line casino ship in Asia. The collapse of the Hong Kong ship on line casino market noticed her bought one closing time, renamed Oriental Dragon, and transferred to Malaysia as a on line casino ship.

After the pandemic struck, her final homeowners largely deserted the ship whereas trying to combat off collectors. She was lastly ordered bought at public sale by the Malaysia Admiralty Court docket late in 2021 acquired by resellers for the scrap trade. She not too long ago left the anchorage at Penang and after a quick cease off the coast of India proceeded on to Gaddani, Pakistan the place the scrappers had gained the bidding and her lengthy profession formally got here to an finish. 

She outlived her two sister ships and practically all the unique cruise ships that began crusing from PortMiami within the late Sixties and early Seventies. Regardless of a number of overhauls that had eliminated her authentic inside design, the outside of the previous Solar Viking remained authentic. She had a particular lounge cantilevered from her funnel that Stephan stated was impressed by the Seattle Area Needle and have become the unique trademark for Royal Caribbean. For her measurement, she had massive areas of open deck house and a mid-ship pool space, every protected however distinctive curved glass windscreens. 

Lengthy outclassed by trendy cruise ships which might be ten occasions her measurement, the Solar Viking was a reminder of the origins of the trendy cruise trade. The final survivor of the period is now the 1968-built cruise ship identified then because the Boheme, which was a transformed automotive ferry design owned by Wallenius immediately greatest identified for his or her automotive carriers. Since 1986, the Boheme has been owned by the Church of Scientology operated because the MS Freewinds within the Caribbean as a retreat for church elders. 


Prime picture: Thomas Geisendorf / CC BY 4.0