It's sometimes hard to believe that the average useful life of a cruise ship is 30 years, as estimated in the financial statements of most of the major cruise companies. Many ships built in the 1980s and later seem to have disappeared from the scene.
The Celebrity Century, for example, was only 20 years old when it was sent to China to be part of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.'s joint venture with Ctrip, called SkySea Cruises. But the Century is still sailing, just not in a market that North American cruisers frequent.
Another old stalwart sailing in China, the former Carnival Cruise Line ship Jubilee, did make it to 30 years. The 1,486-passenger ship, built in 1986 by the Swedish shipyard Kockums, most recently had been sailing as the Henna for a Chinese cruise venture, HNA Tourism Cruises. But after operating for three years, HNA shut down in November, a victim of newer ships flocking to China. Now there's word that the Henna has been sold for scrap to shipbreakers.
The Jubilee was last seen carrying North American passengers a dozen years ago. Since then it has made what could be considered a typical journey for an aging cruise ship trying to survive to its 30-year target date.
In 2004, Carnival Corp. transferred the Jubilee to P&O Cruises Australia, changing its name to the Pacific Sun. It sailed in a secondary but developing market for eight years before being sold to HNA in 2012, showing that it still had some residual value at age 26.
There wasn't much of that value left by age 30, however. HNA had listed the ship for sale at $35 million, but there were apparently no takers.
So the Jubilee will join other beloved ships such as Norwegian Cruise Line's Norway and the former Love Boat, Princess Cruises' Pacific Princess, which were reduced to scrap.
Two sister ships built as part of Carnival's Holiday class are still operating: the Celebration is now sailing as the Grand Celebration for Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, and the Holiday, now 31 years old, sails for Cruise & Maritime Voyages as the Magellan on Baltic Sea itineraries.