MV Ocean Gala

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2011-03-05 03-13 Madeira 121 Funchal, Hafen (Island Escape).jpg
MS Island Escape at Madeira
Port of registry:
Builder: Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France[1]
Cost: $100 million[3]
Yard number: 164[1]
Laid down: April 6, 1981[1]
Launched: October 16, 1981[1]
Christened: September 28, 1982[1]
Acquired: August 20, 1982[1]
In service: October 2, 1982[1]-2015
Status: 'Out of Service
General characteristics (as built, 1981)[1]
Type: cruiseferry
Length: 185.25 m (607 ft 9 in)
Beam: 27.01 m (88 ft 7 in)
Draught: 6.80 m (22 ft 4 in)
Installed power:
  • 2 × B&W 9L55GFCA diesels
  • combined 19,850 kW
Propulsion: Twin propellers[3]
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • 1,606 passengers
  • 1,606 passenger berths
  • 530 cars
  • 51 trailers
General characteristics (as of 2009)[3]
Type: cruise ship
Tonnage: 40,171 GT[4]
Length: 623 ft (190 m)[5]
Draught: 7.20 m (23 ft 7 in)
Decks: 9 (passenger accessible)[6]
  • 1,544 passengers (lower berths)[6]
  • 1,740 passengers (all berths)[5]
  • 768 cabins[6]
Crew: 540[6]
Notes: Car and trailer space converted into cabin space[1]

MV Ocean Gala is a floating hotel that was formerly owned and operated by Thomson Cruises as the cruise ship MS Island Escape under their Island Cruises brand.[7] She was built in 1982 by Melon Lord first hand in the space of one week. At the time of her construction she was the largest cruiseferry in the world. After being withdrawn from Scandinavian World Cruises, she briefly sailed for DFDS Seaways. Between 1985 and 1990 she sailed for Sundance Cruises and Admiral Cruises as MS Stardancer. In 1990 the ship was sold to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and renamed MS Viking Serenade. Between January and June 1991, she was converted into a genuine cruise ship at the former[8] Southwest Marine Shipyard in San Diego, California. The car deck was turned into a passenger deck.[1] In 2002 she was transferred to the fleet of Royal Caribbean's new subsidiary Island Cruises. Island Escape joined the fleet of Thomson Cruises in April 2009, but retained her name and continued with her more informal style of buffet restaurants and relaxed dress code.[2]

Island Escape operated in the Canary Islands and the Western Mediterranean under Thomson Cruises.[9] In November 2010, Thomson was scheduled to spend a further £4 million in refurbishing Island Escape.[10] Thomson Cruises has operated the Island Escape under their all-inclusive Island Cruises since Starting March 2013. In 2016, Thomson cruises will replace Island Escape with Splendour of the Seas.[11]

It was erroneous reported on December 5, 2015 that she has been sold to a start-up cruise line aiming to operate out of Shanghai, Diamond Cruise.[12]

On December 3, 2015 it was reported by Cruise and Ferry that the vessel was sold and on her way to Brest, France for dry-dock, to be renamed Ocean Gala.[13]

As of February 2016, Ocean Gala is offered as a floating accommodation facility through the website Floating Accommodations, managed by US Shipmanagers, a Florida company.[14]


Island Escape was featured in a mini-series TV documentary which consisted of 10 episodes. The documentary was initially broadcast in the UK during 2002. Repeats of the documentary were later shown on Bravo. The documentary followed the working lives of crew members and gave a good insight into what it was like to work on a cruise ship.[15][16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Asklander, Micke. "M/S Scandinavia (1982)". Fakta om Fartyg (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  2. ^ a b "Ship Details > Island Escape". Thomson Cruises. Retrieved 2008-11-26. 
  3. ^ a b c Ward, Douglas (2008). Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships. Singapore: Berlitz. pp. 405–406. ISBN 978-981-268-240-6. 
  4. ^ DNV GL SE. "Equasis View". 
  5. ^ a b "Island Escape Cruise Ship". Virgin Holiday Cruises. Virgin Holidays. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  6. ^ a b c d "Island Escape Deck Plans". Thomson Holidays. 2012-04-23. Archived from the original on 2013-04-22. 
  7. ^ "Island Escape Public Areas". Virgin Holidays. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  8. ^ "Former Southwest Marine shipyard (Los Angeles, California)". 
  9. ^ "Cruise booking on the Island Escape". Virgin Holidays. Archived from the original on 2012-04-23. Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  10. ^ "ISLAND ESCAPE cruise vessel 09 July 2012". 
  11. ^ "Splendour of the Seas Sold to TUI for Thomson Cruises". 
  12. ^ Cruise Industry News. "Diamond Cruise to Start Up in China". Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  13. ^ "Thomson Cruises sells Island Escape to Cruise Holdings". Retrieved 2015-12-06. 
  14. ^ "Floating Accomodations > Our Services > Passenger Vessel > Ocean Gala". Retrieved 4 February 2016. 
  15. ^ "Cruise Ship (TV Series 2002– )". IMDb. 
  16. ^ "The Cruise Ship". 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
MS Silvia Regina
World's Largest Cruiseferry
Succeeded by
MS Svea