Former Cunard and MSC Ship to be Scrapped in Turkey

The former Golden Iris became the most recent cruise ship to arrive at the Turkish ship breakers. Last operated by Mano Cruises, the veteran vessel was in lay up since 2018.

After being renamed Gold Club in 2021, the classic ship arrived at the Aliaga Ship Breaking Yard earlier this month. 

Wrapping up a five-decade career, the vessel will now be being dismantled, with its building materials, fixtures, systems and engines set to be repurposed or sold off.

Built in Denmark, the ship had an unusual run, being originally ordered for Overseas National Airways and designed in association with Hugh Hefner as a “floating Playboy resort.”

While still under construction, however, the 959-guest vessel was sold to Cunard Line along with a sister ship – who would later become the Cunard Countess.

Unlike the remainder of the British operator fleet, both ships had an informal concept, which was kept when they were fitted out at another shipyard in Italy.

After being christened in New York City by the Princess Grace Kelly of Monaco, it entered service for Cunard in 1977 as the Cunard Princess.

In another unusual move, the vessel was chartered to the United States Armed Forces in 1990.

During the Gulf War, the Cunard Princess was used as a recreational facility for troops while stationed off Bahrain.

After nearly 20 years sailing for Cunard, the ship was finally sold to StarLauro Cruises in 1995.

The Italian company – who would later become MSC Cruises – named the ship Rhapsody for a series of cruises in the Mediterranean.

Kept in the fleet after the rebrand, the vessel sailed for MSC until 2009. In February of that year, it was sold to Mano Cruises.

Aiming at the local public, the Israel-based cruise line used the veteran ship in cruises departing from Haifa and Ashdod until 2018 – when it was replaced by the larger and more modern Crown Iris.

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