The first of three Royal Caribbean Cruises cruiseships that were the subject of recent scrapping rumours arrived off the Turkish shiprecycling centre of Aliaga on Tuesday.

The arrival of the 73,900-gt Monarch (built 1991) indicates a shift of cruise scrapping activity from India to European Union-approved yards.

Shipbreaking sources said the other two other Royal Caribbean ships will arrive in Turkey soon.

The trio, which also includes the 73,500-gt Sovereign (built 1987) and 47,400-gt Horizon (built 1990), were last operated by Pullmantur Cruises, a Spanish cruise operator jointly owned by Royal Caribbean and Cruise Investment Holdings.

Their charters were terminated after Pullmantur filed for reorganisation under Spanish insolvency laws.

The Monarch and Sovereign were later reported being stripped of equipment in Naples in preparation for onward sale for scrapping.

The Horizon, which subsequently returned to European waters after a crew repatriation voyage to India, is in Piraeus undergoing a similar stripping process ahead of sailing to Turkey.

IHS Markit lists the status of all three ships as “to be broken up”.

Reports also began emerging this week about a possible scrap sale involving a long-time stalwart of Carnival Corp's Carnival Cruise Line fleet.

Carnival Fantasy heads for Turkey

The Carnival Fantasy departed Curacao for Turkey on Tuesday. Photo: Phillyfan0419/Wikimedia Commons

Several cruise media sources reported on Monday that the 70,400-gt Carnival Fantasy (built 1990) will also be heading to Aliaga.

The lead ship of the eight-strong Fantasy-class built for Carnival in the 1990s, the Carnival Fantasy had been sitting out the Covid-19 pandemic in Bahamian waters but recently moved to Curacao, where it was observed offloading heavy equipment and taking on bunkers.

The ship departed Curacao during the early hours of Tuesday, with Izmir, Turkey, listed as its final destination on a voyage plan filed prior to the start of the voyage. Izmir is just a short distance down the coast from Aliaga.

Carnival Cruise Lines, in response to media enquiries, would not comment specifically on what is happening with the Carnival Fantasy.

“Our parent company, Carnival Corp, said in its quarterly earnings call last Friday that the company was going to remove 13 ships across the corporate fleet," the cruse line told Cruise Radio. "What ships, if any, from the Carnival Cruise Line fleet that may be involved in this capacity reduction have not been identified.”

Carnival Corp subsidiary Costa Cruises recently sold the 75,200-gt Costa Victoria (built 1996) to Italy’s San Giorgio del Porto Shipyard to spearhead its move into green cruiseship recycling.

These recent sales to Italy and to Turkey, where six facilities are EU approved, mark a significant shift in the scrapping policies of the cruise majors.

In the past, India, which paid the highest price for cruise tonnage, was the main destination for large cruiseships heading for demolition, while Turkey, which paid significantly less, picked up leftover scraps in the Mediterranean.

Turkish shipbreaking sources said that even though a large price gap still remains, cruise lines are serious about complying with EU requirements and their own policies rather than seeking the highest price.

They point to Royal Caribbean bringing the Horizon back from India, where it could have been quickly dispatched to Alang, as proof of this commitment.