12 February 2014 update: It now appears as if the Costa Voyager has been sold to Chinese interests, as part of a new start up cruise line.
17 November 2013 update: Costa Cruises has now confirmed that the Costa Voyager is, indeed, for sale, and the Costa NeoRiviera will operate week long cruises from Dubai. The sale or lay up of the bruited second ship has not been elaborated upon at present.
Update: Costa cruises have officially denied the impending sale of the Costa Voyager. The current website lists cruises for the ship, under the Costa banner, through until April of 2015. Stay tuned.
It seems very much like a case of not now, Voyager.
After only a couple of seasons, Costa is bidding arrivederci to it’s sole baby cub, the 28.000 ton Costa Voyager. The line has just announced that the ship will leave the Costa fleet next year, and will be sent to Singapore to ‘await a buyer’- a euphemistic phrase if ever there was one.
The abrupt demise of this beautiful little ship can be traced directly to the implosion of the winter Red Sea cruise market. In common with almost everybody else, Costa scuttled the programme of seven night Red Sea cruises due to be operated by Voyager as a direct result of flaring, unpredictable tensions surging through the entire Middle Eastern region.
Costa cancelled the programme a month or two ago now, and said that an alternative series of deployments for the 2000-built ship would be announced in due course. These, of course, never materialised.
Instead, Costa is taking possession of the larger Grand Mistral from fellow Carnival cohort, Iberocruceros. Ironically, this vessel is the twin sister of the MSC Lirica, the ship that the other big Italian company had positioned in the Red Sea up against Voyager. Now Lirica has been repositioned to the Canaries after her own Red Sea cruises were scuppered. I fully expected Costa Voyager to follow her westward. Clearly, Carnival had other ideas.
Grand Mistral will be renamed as Costa Neoriviera- itself a nice nod to one of the great Costa success stories, prior to the Carnival buyout. Even so, she is almost twice the tonnage of the ship she is replacing.
Costa Voyager was originally built as the Olympic Voyager for long since defunct Greek cruise line, Epirotiki. With a capacity for 836 passengers, she and her twin sister ship, Olympic Explorer, were famed for their very fast top speed of around twenty eight knots, which allowed them to offer very comprehensive, week long itineraries from Piraeus.
The Voyager will hopefully find profitable future employment; at only twelve years of age, she still has plenty of mileage but- on the other hand- this is hardly the size of ship that people are looking at these days. Constructed by Blohm and Voss in Hamburg, she was ironically part of the Iberocruceros fleet herself for a few years,
Still, her demise leaves Costa once again woefully bereft of a more personalised, appealing alternative to the mega ships which have become increasingly the mainstay of the Italian juggernaut.