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Today has brought an interesting coda to the “Departure of Oriana” saga. Holland America Line (HAL), another Carnival Corp cruise line, has announced the sale of the Prinsendam, one of their ships. Indeed, they’ve already sold her, to Phoenix Reisen, a German deluxe cruise operator, but are chartering her back until July 2019.

Prinsendam has been HAL’s smallest ship for some years. She started life in the late 1980s as Royal Viking Sun, built for the Royal Viking Line. That company collapsed in the late 80s and after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing (including a few years under the Cunard flag) she was transferred to HAL in 2002 as a small, deluxe ship making generally lengthy voyages. At that time most of HAL’s fleet consisted of small ships, but about then they started to take delivery of a new fleet of Vista and Enhanced-Vista class ships performing much the same itineraries as other Carnival brands, and I suppose Prinsendam began to look increasingly out of place. Hence the sale.

My understanding is that Phoenix Reisen is a fairly up-market operation, and all of their ships are smaller-sized (ranging from 44,000 tons down to 22,000 tons) with high-quality interiors and facilities. She’ll be the fifth ship sailing for them. The fleet includes Artania, familiar to P&O regulars as Artemis, of course and also familiar to Princess regulars as the first Royal Princess, and Albatross, formerly Royal Viking Sea, and a sister ship to Fred. Olsen’s Black Watch and Boudicca ships.

What’s interesting to me is the difference between what has happened to Prinsendam and Oriana. Prinsendam will live on, still providing high-quality cruises to a discerning public, but for Phoenix Reisen instead of Royal Viking Line,  Cunard, or HAL, her former operators. Oriana, on the other hand, will become a floating casino. Why is this? It can’t be corporate reluctance to sell to a competitor – HAL is as much a Carnival Corp brand as is P&O, and I assume that important strategic decisions for both lines are taken in Miami. Could it be that Oriana wasn’t really small enough? – Prinsendam’s passenger capacity is rather less than half Oriana’s, and her tonnage (approx 38,000 tons) is similarly smaller than Oriana’s (69,000 tons). Or perhaps Oriana wasn’t actually luxurious enough? As an example, I understand that when first built (as Royal Viking Sun) her dining capacity, like all the Royal Viking ships, was big enough to seat all passengers at one time. Oriana, of course, was built with two dinner sittings in mind and thus partook of the mass-market right from the beginning.

Well, what’s done is done. But it’s sad that after August 2019 we won’t see Oriana again, and what might rub that in is that we might well still see Prinsendam and Artemis, albeit in their new guises of Armera (Prinsendam) and Artania (Artemis).

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