Financial problems prompted Spanish operator Happy Cruises to cease operations abruptly on 24 September. Established as Quail Cruises in 2008 as a joint venture between Spain’s Globalia and Brazil’s CVC, Happy chartered three ships on Eastern and Western Mediterranean cruises, as well as on summer sailings in the Baltic, and had planned to introduce winter cruises from Havana this year. The company has struggled to compete in a recession-hit Spanish market with Pullmantur, a Royal Caribbean subsidiary, and Iberocruceros, owned by Carnival Corporation.
Two of the ships, Ocean Pearl (1970/22,945gt) and Gemini (1992/19,093)gt, owned by the Clipper Group and managed by International Shipping Partners (ISP) in Miami, disembarked their passengers at Valencia and Malaga respectively, and then both sailed to Gibraltar on 26 September to be laid up pending new work. The third ship, Happy Dolphin (1990/21,884), which was only taken on by Happy Cruises in March, ended her own cruise in Venice.
Ocean Pearl was built as Song of Norway, Royal Caribbean’s first ship and later had a string of owners and names, including Sundream, Dream, Clipper Pearl, Clipper Pacific and Festival.