Built 1982, Dubigeon-Normandie Prairie-au-Duc, Nantes, France
Tonnage 40 132 GT
Length 185,89 m
Width 27,01 m
Draugth 7,20 m
1 741 passengers
2 B&W diesels, combined 19 850 kW
2 bow thrusters
Speed 20 knots
Island Escape is an informal cruise ship sailing for Thomson Cruises' sub-brand Island Cruises. The angular ship has an interesting history that's well worth looking into.
In the late 1970s the Danish shipping company DFDS decided to initiate a new ferry service along the coast of the United States under the name Scandinavian World Cruises, linking New York City to Miami. For this purpose a new cruiseferry, named Scandinavia, was built at the Dubigeon-Normandie shipyard in France. However, things did not go as smoothly as planned: due to US cabotage laws, the Scandinavia could not link New York to Miami directly. Instead, when completed she was placed on a New York-Freeport (in the Bahamas) service. In Freeport the passengers (and their cars) transferred to another ferry to take them to Miami. Needless to say this was not a huge success and after less than a year in service with Scandinavian World Cruises the Scandinavia was withdrawn in November 1983 and tranferred to DFDS's Oslo-Copenhagen service. Somewhat unusually she retained her Scandinavian World Cruises livery, which was later adopted to the entire DFDS passenger services fleet.
The Scandinavia did not survive in the DFDS Seaways fleet long enough to see the rest of the fleet being repainted to match her livery however, as in early 1985 she was sold to Sundance Cruises (a joint venture between Effoa, Johnson Line and MacDonald Enterprises) as a replacement for their Sundancer that had been declared a total loss after a grounding (oddly enough the Sundancer was restored and continued sailing for another decade). The Scandinavia was rebuilt to better cope with cruising (she did however retain her car deck) and she was renamed Stardancer for US east coast cruising. In 1987 Sundance Cruises merged with Eastern Cruise Line to form Admiral Cruises and the Stardancer transferred to the new company without a change of name. Admiral Cruises too proved to be short-lived, as it merged with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in 1990. Following the merger all other Admiral Cruises ships were sold except the Stardancer, which now became RCCL's Viking Serenade.
In 1991 the Viking Serenade was heavily rebuilt in San Diego, with the cardeck filled with additional cabins, RCCL's trademark "sky lounge" added aft of the funnel and the funnel itself shortened from it's attractive original desing. A large duck-tail had to be added to the rear to increase stability with the additional top-deck structures. The Viking Serenade stayed with Royal Caribbean until 2002, when it was transferred to the newly-founded Island Cruises, a joint subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and First Choice Holidays. Renamed Island Escape, the ship now became an informal cruise ship for the UK market. Island Cruises was not the success it was slated to be, and in 2008 Royal Caribbean withdrew from the joint venture, selling it's shared to TUI Travel (which in the interim had taken over First Choice Holidays). As TUI Travel already owned another downmarket UK cruise line, Thomson Cruises, the Island Escape came to be marketed as a part of the Thomson Cruises fleet. However, Thomson have retained the Island Cruises name as a sub-brand to differentiate between the informal Island Escape and the rest of their fleet. Resultingly the Island Escape also retains Island Cruises' livery at least for the time being.
Photographs below are of the Island Escape departing Naples on 29 May 2009. Photographed from onboard MSC Sinfonia. Click on the image(s) to view full size.
|Rather aft-heavy, with the added structures there. Note the pilot-boat alongside; apparently the ship dropped off the pilot even though they were still in the harbour pool?|
|Passing the lighthouse at the entrance to the harbour.|