Royal Caribbean to slash fleet size with departure of older vessels

Dec 16, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Add Royal Caribbean to the list of cruise lines downsizing amidst the coronavirus crisis.

The world’s largest cruise brand on Wednesday said two of its 26 ships would leave its fleet for good in the coming days.

The two vessels — Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas — have been sold to an undisclosed buyer in Asia, the company said.

For more cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s new cruise newsletter

Dating to 1990 and 1992, respectively, Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas are the oldest and smallest ships in the Royal Caribbean fleet. Empress of the Seas measures just 48,563 tons — three to four times smaller than the big, amenity-filled ships that Royal Caribbean has been rolling out in recent years. Majesty of the Seas measures about 74,000 tons — also significantly smaller than Royal Caribbean’s newer vessels.

Both of the ships are much-beloved by Royal Caribbean fans, in part due to their smaller size. But they increasingly have been outliers in the Royal Caribbean fleet as the line has shifted its focus to much larger vessels.

Related: The best credit cards for booking cruises

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas is known for its soaring, flying saucer-like Viking Crown lounge, located above its pool deck. (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

The two ships weren’t always considered small. When they debuted in the early 1990s, they were among the biggest cruise ships in the world and notable for their design.

“Empress and Majesty of the Seas made indelible marks on the cruise industry with their revolutionary design and size,” Royal Caribbean president and Michael Bayley noted in a statement accompanying Wednesday’s announcement. “Touted as the cruise industry’s most groundbreaking ships when they were introduced, they continued to make history throughout their more than three decades of service.”

Empress of the Seas was, notably, the first cruise ship from any line specifically designed for 3- and 4-night sailings. Her initial voyages were quick trips to The Bahamas from Miami.

Empress of the Seas also was the first cruise ship ever to sail out of the New York area’s Cape Liberty cruise terminal, located in Bayonne, New Jersey (in 2004).

Related: How to plan a cruise with points and miles

Majesty of the Seas was one of three sister ships unveiled by Royal Caribbean between 1988 and 1992 that were legendary in their time. Known as the Sovereign Class, the three vessels often were billed as the first true megaships.

The two other Sovereign Class ships — Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas — left the Royal Caribbean fleet in 2008 and 2013, respectively, and recently were scrapped.

Royal Caribbean’s Bayley, who has been at the company for more than 30 years and worked on a Sovereign Class ship early in his career, suggested the decision to remove Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas was a tough one. But he called it necessary.

“Saying goodbye to these two beloved ships is a major moment in Royal Caribbean’s history – one that is difficult but necessary,” he said. “With plans for new, innovative ships to join our fleet in the upcoming years, we look forward to our guests and crew continuing to make new memories with us.”

Royal Caribbean is just the latest cruise line to downsize its fleet amidst the coronavirus crisis. Holland America has shrunk its fleet size by 29% with the removal of four ships, and Carnival Cruise Line also has removed four vessels from its fleet. Other lines that have downsized their operations by removing vessels include Princess Cruises and Costa Cruises.

Related: Cruise giant Carnival Corp. removes more ships from its fleet 

Royal Caribbean has canceled all upcoming sailings on Empress of the Seas and Majesty of the Seas. The line said it would contact passengers booked on the ships and their travel agents to discuss their options.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image courtesy of Royal Caribbean   

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 3X points on dining and 2x points on travel, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.