Portugal’s Montepio Bank has found a trading buyer for the world’s oldest active cruiseship.
The sale of the 16,100-gt Astoria (built 1948) was revealed by Portuguese media on Sunday, the 65th anniversary of an infamous incident that saw the ship, then named Stockholm, ram and sink the Italian transatlantic liner Andrea Doria (built 1951) off Nantucket, Massachusetts.
And while the Andrea Doria remains a rusting wreck at the bottom of the Atlantic, the Astoria will be refitted for further cruise service.
The buyers behind the purchase of the vessel were described as the same consortium of five high net-worth individuals from the US who in January acquired the 9,600-gt cruiseship Funchal (built 1961) at auction.
Both the Astoria and Funchal previously operated in the fleet of Lisbon-based Portuscale Cruises until it became insolvent in 2015.
Teamson Lda, which became the registered owner of the Funchal in April, has sent the ship to Naval Rocha Shipyards near Lisbon for a two-month dry-docking.
The Astoria will be towed to Lisbon from its current lay-up moorings in Rotterdam, after which it will also undergo an extensive refit at Naval Rocha.
The future of both ships will be very different, though.
Although the consortium that has acquired both ships has been keeping a very low profile, and could not be reached for comment, TradeWinds was told by cruise sources familiar with the situation that the Funchal is being converted into a deluxe boutique hotel that will be moored in Lisbon.
News reports over the weekend suggested the Astoria will be used to operate cruises from Lisbon to Portugal’s island territories in the Atlantic.
Astoria is deemed to be a better candidate for active cruising because it was completely rebuilt as a modern cruiseship in the early 1990s during a refit that saw it stripped to the bare steel hull and fitted with new engines.
The Funchal underwent an extensive accommodation refurbishment in 2013, but it is still powered by a pair of diesel engines installed in 1972. The vessel would also require numerous other technical upgrades to permit it to continue operating as a cruiseship.