Ocean Princess (III)
Ocean Princess passing the village of Velsen Zuid at the 17th of june, 2012.
The Ocean Princess was originally built as a part of the eight-ship R-class for Renaissance Cruises under the inventive name of R Four. Maybe you guessed that she then had to be the fourth ship that was launched in this class and you are right if you did so. These ships measure some 30.277 tons, have a lenght of 181 meters, a width of 25,50 meters and a draft of 6 meters. They sail with up to 824 passengers as maximum, often the number of 684 is given because that is the passengercapacity of these ships in the lower berths. Also, 373 crewmembers are aboard. The ship offers nine decks that could be used by her passengers in a very elegant, sophisticated setting, that recalls the grandeur of the art-deco liners built in the 1920's and 1930's. At a speed of 20 knots normally, the ship was built for cruises in the Indian and Pacific oceans for Renaissance Cruises, together with her somewhat earlier sister R Three. The other ships in the fleet of Renaissance Cruises sailed mostly northern European and Mediterranean cruises. The R Four was, like her sisters, built at the Chantiers de L'atlantique wharf at Saint-Nazaire, France under yardnumber O31. She was launched in the fall of 1999 and named at Fort Lauderdale at the 19th of november. Then she sailed for French Polynesia, from where her Renaissance cruises would start. The ship was, like her sisters, registered at Monrovia, flying the Liberian flag.
Renaissance Cruises was a shortlived tale in modern cruise history, because the company that had been founded in 1989 was declared bankrupt at the 25th of september 2001, in the aftermath of the horrible attacks in New York and Washington just weeks earlier. Of course, the company was already in fiancial troubles before, this was just the final blow. Tourism plummited and the company was unable to pay for the eight ship class, so the ships were laid-up by the creditors and for this, a company named Cruise Invest was formed. Unofficially, the R Four was renamed Cruise Invest Four and together with her sister R Three, she was laid-up at Uturoa. Most other ships of the line had been taken to the port of Gibraltar, a strange sight of that many ships together in the small port.
As Tahitian Princess, the ship called at Amsterdam at the 18th of june of 2009, six months before she was renamed Ocean Princess.
Cruise Invest was put into action because it was a way the builders could charter out or sell the ships so some money could flow back towards the creditors. But in the aftermath of the attacks and the uncertain future in the tourism branch, including the cruisemarket, it took a while before the ships found new homes. R Four was chartered to P&O from october of 2002 onwards and she was to be placed in the fleet of Princess Cruises. This company did have the posession of several large and very large cruiseliners, but wanted to diversify into other markets with smaller ships and these modern ships were just what they needed. Of course, Princess Cruises had been sailing with smaller ships before, like Island Princess and Pacific Princess, the Love Boats. The plan that P&O had, was to use the two former Renaissance Cruises ships that were arrested at Uturoa, and use them for cruises within the South Pacific region, the originally planned market for the ships. For this, R Four was renamed Tahitian Princess, a new name for the company reflecting the region, and the R Three was renamed Pacific Princess, also a very fitting name and also bringing back a very popular name from Princess Cruises history.
Tahitian Princess was named at Papeete, Tahiti at the 21st of december 2002 by madame Tonita Flosse, wife of Gaston Flosse, the President of Government of French Polynesia. Afterwards, the ship started her cruises around Tahiti. But as you see in the photograph above, she is shown in the port of Amsterdam, not anywhere near the South Pacific. This can be explained. because the company faced within a few years that two ships sailing almost the same cruises was too much to be commercially sound, so Pacific Princess stayed in the region for most part of the year, while Tahitian Princess was now put into worldwide service. Because the name of the ship of course seemed a little out of place now, Princess Cruises decided to return an old name to the fleet, renaming the ship Ocean Princess at the 2nd of december of 2009. This name reflected more her global cruises and as such, she can offer her Princess Cruises an intimate modern liner in contradiction to the megaships Princess is known for. Next to these two ships, Princess Cruises also sailed with a thirth former R-class ship. From the spring of 2007 onwards, the former R Seven joined the fleet of Princess Cruises as the second Royal Princess. This was only for a few years, because she was placed in the fleet of P&O Cruises from 2011 onwards as the second Adonia.
Seen between the trees at Velsen Zuid, Ocean Princess heads for the locks at IJmuiden.
On the 25th of november 2014, Ocean Princess was sold to Norwegian Cruise Lines, to extend their newly aquired Oceania Cruises brand. Earlier that same month, NCL had bought Prestige Cruises, the mothercompany of Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. For Oceania, the Ocean Princess will be re-named Sirena, up for delivery in march of 2016. Before entering service for Oceania Cruises, the ship will be re-furbished and brought up to the standards of her new company through a 35-day drydock at Marseilles, France. She will join her former Renaissance Cruises sisters Insignia, Regatta and Nautica at Oceania Cruises, bringing half of the former fleet together again. Very nice to see, that NCL doesn't seem to introduce her as 'Oceania Princess' or something like that, making Oceania Cruises an exception in modern day cruising when talking about naming ships...
Nice fact to mention is that Norwegian Cruise Lines Holding, the owners of Oceania Cruises, recieved a loan of 66 million dollars for the transaction from Carnival Corporation, the owners of Princess Cruises. This loan was much higher then the actual price of 24 million that NCLH payed for the Sirena. To my knowledge it is not common for one of the large companies to finance the sale of one of its ships to one of the other large players in the market.