There’s a certain nostalgia when it comes to older cruise ships. They reflect a different era in the industry. Sure, modern cruise ships have more technology and pizzazz, but there’s something to be said about timeless maritime tradition.
We recently asked our followers on social media, “What was one of your favorite cruise ships that no longer exists or is no longer in service?”
After pouring over the answers that came in, we put together a list of ten cruise ships that were mentioned the most.
This list consists of ships that our readers have actually sailed on, so you won’t see vessels from 100 years ago here.
Here are 10 beloved cruise ships that no longer exist:
10. SS Dolphin IV (Zim lines)
The SS Dolphin IV was originally launched in 1956 in Germany as Zion of Zim Lines. The vessel went through several names like Amelia De Melo and Ithaca before settling on Dolphin IV in 1978 under Paquet Ulysses Cruises. In 1984, Dolphin Cruise Lines was created.
She sailed with Cape Canaveral Cruise Line from 1995 until 2000 when a $3.5 million repair bill halted her voyages. Unable to find a financial lifeline, the ship was moored in Freeport, Bahamas, until 2003, when her story ended, sold for scrap.
9. The “Big Red Boat”
Premier Cruise Lines, established in 1983, quickly distinguished itself in the cruise industry with its iconic “Big Red Boat,” a reference to the vibrant color of its ships. This innovative line carved out a niche by partnering with Disney to offer combined sea and land vacations, seamlessly blending the magic of Disney theme parks with the allure of ocean voyages.
The Big Red Boat appealed to both children and adults. However, as the cruise industry evolved and competition intensified, Premier Cruise Lines faced financial difficulties, leading to its eventual closure in 2000.
Despite its relatively short lifespan, Premier Cruise Lines and its Big Red Boat left quite an impression on our readers who had sailed with the company in the past. The ship to sail with the line the longest was StarShip Oceanic which was in service from 1985 until 2000.
8. Celebrity Horizon
The Celebrity Horizon-class ships, including Celebrity Horizon and Celebrity Zenith, made waves in the 1990s by introducing luxury cruising. These ships were loved for their stylish looks and cozy feel, offering top-notch service and special touches. They were smaller, so guests enjoyed a closer, more personal experience and visited unique places big ships couldn’t reach.
People loved the mix of fancy dining, fun activities, and the chance to relax in a laid-back yet elegant setting. Over time, as newer, bigger ships came along, the Horizon class ships were retired. However, they left a lasting impact.
They showed what luxury cruising is all about: great service, exclusive adventures, and creating lasting memories. The Celebrity Horizon and Zenith will always be remembered for their role in shaping a better cruise experience, making cruising special for those who were on board.
Both Horizon and Zenith were scrapped in 2022.
7. Majesty of the Seas
Majesty of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean International ship, made its debut in 1992, quickly becoming a favorite for its blend of adventure and relaxation. Known for its impressive array of amenities, including pools, a climbing wall, and a selection of dining options, it catered to all ages. Its size was perfect for first-time cruisers or those preferring a more manageable, less overwhelming experience.
Despite its popularity, the cruising landscape evolved, and Majesty of the Seas was overshadowed by newer, larger ships boasting even more features. In 2021, Royal Caribbean decided it was time to retire Majesty of the Seas, closing a chapter on the popular ship.
The vessel is the last surviving of the Sovereign-class ships, although it is no longer in service.
6. Sitmar Cruises
Sitmar Cruises and its cruise ships were mentioned several times by our readers. The cruise line, launched in the 1940s, quickly became known for its exceptional service and friendly atmosphere. Popular ships like the Fairwind, Fairsky, and Fairsea stood out in the 1970s and 1980s for their inviting interiors and range of activities.
Sitmar FairMajesty was the last ship to be built and launched with the cruise line, but it only operated for one year in 1988. Sitmar was beloved for creating a family-like experience on the sea, blending relaxation with adventure.
Guests appreciated the line for its personal touch, memorable trips, and the way it made cruising feel special. Despite merging with P&O Cruises in 1988 and ending its own brand, Sitmar’s legacy of intimate and enjoyable cruise experiences lives on in the memories of those who sailed with them.
In a way, the legacy of Sitmar also lives on in the ship Regal Princess, as it was originally ordered by Sitmar. The vessel was transferred to Princess Cruises before ever entering service for the company.
5. Sovereign of the Seas
Launched in 1988, Sovereign of the Seas was a marvel of maritime engineering and a jewel in Royal Caribbean’s crown, celebrated as the world’s largest cruise ship at the time.
Its introduction marked a new era in cruising, featuring innovative amenities like multiple pools, expansive lounges, and a towering five-story atrium that left passengers in awe. Sovereign of the Seas offered an unparalleled level of luxury and adventure at sea, setting a new standard for cruise vacations.
Sovereign of the Seas made cruising popular by showing how special and fun a vacation at sea could be. In 2008 the ship was transferred to Pullmantur Cruises where it was renamed MS Sovereign.
In June of 2020, the first Sovereign-class ship arrived in Turkey where the vessel was dismantled.
4. Song of Norway
MS Song of Norway, launched by Royal Caribbean in 1970, was one of the first ships to kickstart the modern era of cruising. It was also Royal Caribbean’s first cruise ship.
But it wasn’t just a ship; it was a breakthrough in vacation travel, smaller than today’s giants (at only 18,000 gross tons) but packed with innovative features for its time. The vessel had a unique design, including a special lounge that offered panoramic sea views.
People really liked Song of Norway because it felt friendly and cozy, although the ship was lengthened in 1978 due to its popularity. The ship was the first vessel to visit Royal Caribbean’s private destination in Labadee, Haiti.
After being in service with the cruise line for 17 years, the ship was sold to Sun Cruises, and later in 2013 was sold for scrap, after going by the name of Formosa Queen.
3. Carnival Celebration & Holiday
Carnival Celebration and Carnival Holiday, iconic vessels in Carnival Cruise Line’s fleet, marked significant milestones in the cruise industry.
Launched in 1987 and 1985 respectively, they belonged to the Holiday Class (along with Jubilee), a trio of ships that pioneered the concept of less expensive, more accessible cruising adventures for the average vacationer.
Carnival Celebration was known for its lively atmosphere and vibrant entertainment options. Carnival Holiday, the first of its class, introduced travelers to affordable cruising, making the joy of a sea voyage accessible to more people. These ships were celebrated for their innovative designs that maximized fun and comfort, setting a new standard in the cruise experience.
The original Carnival Celebration was eventually sold to Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, became Grand Celebration, and was later scrapped in 2021.
The ships were so popular that Carnival decided to reuse the name. Carnival Celebration, an Excel-class ship, was launched in 2022. And a new Carnival Jubilee was just launched as one of the newest Carnival cruise ships.
2. SS Norway
Many said of this ship, “There will never be another ship like her!” Launched as SS France in 1961, the ship was a beacon of luxury, becoming the world’s longest passenger ship. With the rise of air travel, she faced obsolescence until Norwegian Cruise Line reinvented her as SS Norway in 1979.
This transformation introduced the “mega cruise ship” era. With enhanced amenities, spacious staterooms, and innovative designs the vessel really led to today’s cruise ship promenades.
SS Norway’s change from a classic ocean liner to a cruise ship highlighted the shift towards ships as destinations themselves. Even after her retirement in 2003 and eventual scrapping, the SS Norway remains a symbol of the evolution from the golden age of ocean travel to the modern cruising experience, significantly influencing the design and concept of contemporary cruise ships.
After being renamed to SS Blue Lady, the vessel was sold and later scrapped in 2008.
1. Carnival’s Fantasy-Class
By far, the most mentioned ships in the replies were Carnival Fantasy-class vessels.
This group of ships (Fantasy, Fascination, Inspiration, Ecstasy, Sensation, Imagination) holds immense significance. Launched between 1985 and 1996, they redefined Carnival and cruising for many. Offering larger size, increased activities, and affordability while maintaining a fun-filled atmosphere, they remain cherished by those seeking a classic and enjoyable cruise experience.
The ship class, comprising eight vessels, was known for its distinctive whimsical design, packed with bold colors, neon lights, and imaginative decor that set the stage for the modern cruise experience.
The Fantasy class’s introduction of more affordable, short-term cruises opened up the possibility of cruising to a new segment of vacationers, democratizing sea travel in a way that had not been seen before.
There are still two Fantasy-class ships still in service: Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise.