MS Ocean Gala 1

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Ocean Gala entering Kiel (cropped).jpg
Ocean Gala entering Kiel
  • 1982–1985: Scandinavia
  • 1985–1990: Stardancer
  • 1990–2002: Viking Serenade
  • 2002–2015: Island Escape[1]
  • 2015–2017: Ocean Gala
  • 2017-2018: Ocean Gala 1
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
Fate: Scrapped in Alang April 2018
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)
Decks: 10
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]

MS Ocean Gala 1 was launched as the cruiseferry MS Scandinavia in 1981. In 1985 she was renamed MS Stardancer and in 1990 MS Viking Serenade before being converted to a cruise ship in 1991. She became MS Island Escape in 2002 being renamed once more as MV Ocean Gala in 2015. She was finally renamed MV Ocean Gala 1 before being scrapped in 2018.


She was built in 1982 by Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France for Scandinavian World Cruises (a subsidiary of DFDS) as the cruiseferry MS Scandinavia. 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 After being withdrawn from Scandinavian World Cruises, she briefly sailed for DFDS Seaways.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[7] 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 as MS Island Escape.

In February 1988, a chiropractor named Scott Rolston murdered his wife Karen Waltz by strangling her and dumping the body overboard in order to make it look like a drowning. This was aided by the fact that then Stardancer does not have a tiered setup for the balconies of private cabins. Because of this, Karen was either thrown or pushed from the balcony, and fell straight down into the water below. Rolston was later convicted of her murder. [8]

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 insight into what it was like to work on a cruise ship.[9]

On May 25, 2006, Micki Kanesaki was murdered by her ex-husband, Lonnie Kocontes, while aboard the Island Escape. Kanesaki was murdered in the same manner as Karen Waltz 18 years earlier. [10] [11]

She joined the fleet of Thomson Cruises in April 2009, but retained her name.[2] Island Escape operated in the Canary Islands and the Western Mediterranean under Thomson Cruises.[12] In November 2010, Thomson was scheduled to spend a further £4 million in refurbishing Island Escape.[13] Thomson Cruises has operated the Island Escape under their all-inclusive Island Cruises since starting March 2013. In 2016, Thomson cruises replaced Island Escape with Splendour of the Seas.[14]

On 3 December 2015, it was reported that the vessel had been sold and was on her way to Brest, France for dry-docking, to be renamed Ocean Gala.[15]

In February 2016, Ocean Gala was offered as a floating accommodation facility through the website Floating Accommodations, managed by US Shipmanagers, a Florida company[16] and it was announced that the Swedish Migration Agency have signed a contract to use the Ocean Gala as an asylum hotel for 1790 asylum seekers. Initially, permission was sought for a 4 year stint 2016-2020 in the Harbour of Härnösand.[17][18]

Ocean Gala arrived at Utansjöverkets hamn at on 14 June 2016. A police report was filed against the owner of Utansjöverkets hamn by Härnösand Municipality, claiming the facility was missing ISPS classification.[19][20]

According to media, the compensation from the Swedish Migration Agency at SEK450/asylum seeker would generate SEK805,500/day if the asylum hotel was operated at full capacity.[21]

The Asylum hotel plans did not come to fruition and the ship was put back on the market for either sale or charter in August 2016.

To avoid increased costs for heating and since Ocean Gala did not comply with Finnish-Swedish Ice Class Rules, the vessel left the port 3 November 2016. On its way to Esbjerg, a short stop was made in Tallinn to refuel.[22] The vessel was in Denmark and completed its five-year survey with class society DNVGL.

After months off Suez as channel workers floating accommodation and calls at Limassol she finally passed through the canal on 2 May 2017, heading down the Red Sea, it was speculated she was heading to Alang for Scrapping.[23] The next port turned out to be Khalifa, Abu Dhabi, for continued service.

In March 2018, after spending several months laid up in Khalifa, she set sail for Alang, where she was beached for scrapping on 4 April 2018 at Kaya plot 103.[24]



  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b "Ship Details > Island Escape". Thomson Cruises. Retrieved 2008-11-26. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  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. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b c d "Island Escape Deck Plans". Thomson Holidays. 2012-04-23. Archived from the original on 2013-04-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Former Southwest Marine shipyard (Los Angeles, California)".
  8. ^ "Death of a Bride of Nine Days a Strange End to an Unusual Courtship". CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "The Cruise Ship". Archived from the original on 2011-10-11. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ "The Lonnie Kocontes Cruise Ship Murder". CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Man Charged with Strangling Wife Seven Years After Cruise Ship Murder". CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ "Cruise booking on the Island Escape". Virgin Holidays. Archived from the original on 2012-04-24. Retrieved 2012-04-23. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "ISLAND ESCAPE cruise vessel 09 July 2012".
  14. ^ "Splendour of the Seas Sold to TUI for Thomson Cruises".
  15. ^ "Thomson Cruises sells Island Escape to Cruise Holdings". Retrieved 2015-12-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Floating Accommodations > Our Services > Passenger Vessel > Ocean Gala". Retrieved 4 February 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Planerna på asylfartyg går vidare – så vill Härnösandspolitikerna stoppa etableringen". Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  18. ^ "Kryssningsfartyg blir nytt asylboende". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  19. ^ "Företaget bakom Ocean Gala: "Finns inget som kan stoppa det"". Retrieved 5 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ "Kryssningsfartyget på plats – och polisanmält". Retrieved 5 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "Asylbåten är framme – hamnen polisanmäld". Retrieved 5 August 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Det blir Ocean Galas nästa hamnstopp Asylbåten är framme – sydligare breddgrader väntar". Retrieved 3 November 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ A la Casse - Bulletin d'information et d'analyses sur la démolition des navires n° 47, du 1er janvier au 31 mars 2017. Robin des Bois, 5 May 2017. Retrieved 2017-05-09.
  24. ^

External links[edit]

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