MS Ocean Gala 1
Ocean Gala entering Kiel in June 2016
|Port of registry|
|Builder||Dubigeon-Normandie S.A., Nantes, France|
|Laid down||April 6, 1981|
|Launched||October 16, 1981|
|Christened||September 28, 1982|
|Acquired||August 20, 1982|
|In service||October 2, 1982-2015|
|Fate||Scrapped in Alang April 2018|
|General characteristics (as built, 1981)|
|Length||185.25 m (607 ft 9 in)|
|Beam||27.01 m (88 ft 7 in)|
|Draught||6.80 m (22 ft 4 in)|
|Speed||20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)|
|General characteristics (as of 2009)|
|Length||623 ft (190 m)|
|Draught||7.20 m (23 ft 7 in)|
|Decks||9 (passenger accessible)|
|Notes||Car and trailer space converted into cabin space|
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 After being withdrawn from Scandinavian World Cruises, she briefly sailed for DFDS Seaways.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 Southwest Marine Shipyard in San Diego, California. The car deck was turned into a passenger deck. 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.
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.
She joined the fleet of Thomson Cruises in April 2009, but retained her name. Island Escape operated in the Canary Islands and the Western Mediterranean under Thomson Cruises. In November 2010, Thomson was scheduled to spend a further £4 million in refurbishing Island Escape. 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.
In February 2016, Ocean Gala was offered as a floating accommodation facility through the website Floating Accommodations, managed by US Shipmanagers, a Florida company 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.
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.
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. 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. 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.
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