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MS Island Escape

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(Redirected from Viking Serenade)
Viking Serenade in San Diego
  • 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
BuilderDubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France[1]
Cost$100 million[3]
Yard number164[1]
Laid downApril 6, 1981[1]
LaunchedOctober 16, 1981[1]
ChristenedSeptember 28, 1982[1]
AcquiredAugust 20, 1982[1]
Maiden voyage1982
In serviceOctober 2, 1982[1]-2015
FateScrapped at Alang, India in April 2018
General characteristics (as built, 1981)[1]
Length185.25 m (607 ft 9 in)
Beam27.01 m (88 ft 7 in)
Draught6.80 m (22 ft 4 in)
Installed power
  • 2 × B&W 9L55GFCA diesels
  • combined 19,850 kW
PropulsionTwin propellers[3]
Speed20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
  • 1,606 passengers
  • 1,606 passenger berths
  • 530 cars
  • 51 trailers
General characteristics (as of 2009)[3]
Typecruise ship
Tonnage40,171 GT[6]
Length623 ft (190 m)[5]
Draught7.20 m (23 ft 7 in)
Decks9 (passenger accessible)[4]
  • 1,544 passengers (lower berths)[4]
  • 1,740 passengers (all berths)[5]
  • 768 cabins[4]
NotesCar and trailer space converted into cabin space[1]

MS Island Escape was a cruise ship originally built 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 MS Ocean Gala in 2015. She was finally renamed MS 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 At the time of her construction, she was the largest cruiseferry in the world.[citation needed] After being withdrawn from Scandinavian World Cruises, she briefly sailed for DFDS Seaways.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 full-time 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.

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.[8] In November 2010, Thomson was scheduled to spend a further £4 million in refurbishing Island Escape.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

In February 2016, Ocean Gala was offered as a floating accommodation facility through the website Floating Accommodations, managed by US Shipmanagers, a Florida company[12] 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.[13][14]

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.[15][16]

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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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.[20]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

In February 1988, chiropractor Scott Rolston murdered his wife, Karen Waltz, by strangling her and dumping the body overboard in order to make it look like a drowning. Karen was either thrown or pushed from the balcony of their cabin and fell straight down into the water below. Rolston was later convicted of her murder.[21]

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.[22][23]

In popular culture[edit]

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.[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.
  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. ^ a b c d "Island Escape Deck Plans". Thomson Holidays. 2012-04-23. Archived from the original on 2012-12-27.
  5. ^ a b "Island Escape Cruise Ship". Virgin Holiday Cruises. Virgin Holidays. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  6. ^ DNV GL SE. "Equasis View". gl-group.com.
  7. ^ "Former Southwest Marine shipyard (Los Angeles, California)".
  8. ^ "Cruise booking on the Island Escape". Virgin Holidays. Archived from the original on 2018-12-30. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  9. ^ "ISLAND ESCAPE cruise vessel 09 July 2012".
  10. ^ "Splendour of the Seas Sold to TUI for Thomson Cruises". cruiseindustrynews.com. 2 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Thomson Cruises sells Island Escape to Cruise Holdings". CruiseandFerry.net. Retrieved 2015-12-06.
  12. ^ "Floating Accommodations > Our Services > Passenger Vessel > Ocean Gala". floatingaccommodations.com. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Planerna på asylfartyg går vidare – så vill Härnösandspolitikerna stoppa etableringen". allehanda.se. 16 February 2016. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  14. ^ "Kryssningsfartyg blir nytt asylboende". Aftonbladet. Retrieved 2016-02-17.
  15. ^ "Företaget bakom Ocean Gala: "Finns inget som kan stoppa det"". 14 June 2016. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  16. ^ "Kryssningsfartyget på plats – och polisanmält". Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  17. ^ Mårtensson, Sebastian (14 June 2016). "Asylbåten är framme – hamnen polisanmäld". SVT Nyheter. Retrieved 5 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Det blir Ocean Galas nästa hamnstopp Asylbåten är framme – sydligare breddgrader väntar". 3 November 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ "Ocean Gala I (ex-Viking Serenade, Island Escape) To Be Scrapped | CruiseInd". www.cruiseind.com. Archived from the original on 2018-03-30.
  21. ^ "Death of a Bride of Nine Days a Strange End to an Unusual Courtship". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 2019-07-17.
  22. ^ "The Lonnie Kocontes Cruise Ship Murder". 11 July 2021.
  23. ^ "Man Charged with Strangling Wife Seven Years After Cruise Ship Murder".
  24. ^ "The Cruise Ship". LocateTV.com. Archived from the original on 2011-10-11.

External links[edit]

Preceded by World's Largest Cruiseferry
Succeeded by