Former Cunard and MSC ship to be demolished in Turkey

The former Golden Iris has become the most recent cruise ship to arrive at Turkish shipbreaking. Last operated by Mano Cruises, the veteran ship had been decommissioned since 2018.

After being renamed Gold Club in 2021, the classic ship arrived at the Aliaga shipbreaking yard earlier this month.

Concluding a five-decade career, the ship will now be dismantled, with its construction materials, fittings, systems and engines to be reused or sold.

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

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

Unlike the rest of the British operator’s fleet, both ships had an informal concept, which was retained when fitted out at another shipyard in Italy.

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

In another unusual move, the ship 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 of sailing for Cunard, the ship was finally sold to StarLauro Cruises in 1995.

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

Retained in the fleet after the renaming, the ship sailed for MSC until 2009. In February of the same year, she was sold to Mano Cruises.

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