The Sapphire (1967/12,263gt) has finally been sold for breaking after being laid up for more than a year in Greece. This attractive little ship was built as Italia by Cantieri Navale Felszegi at Trieste for Crociere d’Oltremare, a Sicilian-based company. She was almost immediately snapped up by the still young Princess Cruises as a replacement for Princess Patricia, the line’s first ship.
She was marketed as Princess Italia but not renamed as such, and continued to operate for Princess until returned to her owners in 1973. She was then chartered to Costa Line for cruising in the Caribbean and within a short time had been purchased by Costa, who retained her for ten years. Her next owner was Ocean Cruise Lines, for whom she became Ocean Princess, and later passed to Croisieres Paquet, in whose ownership she partially sank and was declared a constructive total loss after hitting a wreck on the Amazon.
She was sold to Greek owners, who repaired and refitted her as Sea Prince. Louis Cruise Lines acquired her in about 1995 and she was initially operated as Princesa Oceanica, but in 1996 was chartered to Thomson Cruises and renamed Sapphire. Initially flagged in Cyprus for Louis, she moved to Marshall Islands registry in 2004 and to that of Malta in 2010. She now flies the St Kitts and Nevis flag as Aspire, with her final destination likely to be Alang.
Other ships on the move include The Emerald (1958/26,428gt), which, after a long period of lay-up, has found new employment, as a hotel ship in Korea. She may go to the Caribbean after that, but as a steam-turbine-powered ship she is expensive to operate.