Ex-Costa Romantica looks to be heading for Pakistan scrapyard

The cruise ship once named the Costa Romantica looks set to be delivered to a Pakistani breakers’ yard in the not-too-distant future.

The vessel was sold by Carnival Corporation in 2020 as the company downsized its fleet during the pandemic, when nearly all of it ships were laid up.

The 56,800 gt vessel was introduced in 1992 as the Costa Romantica, operating under the resurgent Costa cruises brand, owned by Carnival Corp.

The Costa Romantica underwent a significant modernization and overhaul in 2011 as part of a life extension programme. It was relaunched as the Costa NeoRomantica and included cruises in the Chinese market.

Sister ship Costa Classica was sold in 2018 to Bahamas Paradise Cruises, which still operates it. The Costa NeoRomantica remained popular but was among the ships sold in 2020 as Carnival Corporation sought to dispose of older cruise ships during the pause in operations.

It was at this point that things became slightly less clear. Greece’s Celestyal Cruises said that it would operate the cruise ship, to be renamed the Celestyal Experience (IMN July 22nd 2020). The cruise line announced plans for a refurbishment of the ship before planning to start operating her in 2021. However, with the pandemic continuing, Celestyal Cruises decided to keep the newly acquired ship idle.

Celestyal’s parent the Louis Group then announced in September that the newly acquired ship had been sold again, to Dubai-based Beacon and Bay Shipping Services. By October the reports surfaced that she was being sold for scrap. Renamed yet again and now sailing under the name Antares Experience, the vessel left Greece in mid-October. The assumption was that it would be heading for scrappers in Alang, India, but recently the vessel had been seen near Pakistan. This week Gadani Ship Breaking Yard said the cruise ship was due within days at its facilities about 30 miles northwest of Karachi.