Graceful retirement or a new life: what does the future hold for Ruby?

//Graceful retirement or a new life: what does the future hold for Ruby?

rubyruby.jpgSaga Ruby’s final voyage will be a 31-night Christmas cruise to the Caribbean, leaving the UK in December next year. After that, who knows what will happen to the much-loved ship?
The official company statement and the letter sent to customers by chief executive Robin Shaw both say “it is time for this grand old lady to retire gracefully.”
But what does that mean?
There was speculation that sister ship Saga Rose, withdrawn from service in 2009, could be converted into a floating hotel at Southampton’s Town Quay, following the example set by historic liner Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.
The proposal came to nothing, however, partly due to the £15 million which would have been required simply to provide a secure berth, and the ship spent several undignified months wandering the oceans – presumably in search of an elusive buyer – before ending up in a Shanghai scrapyard.
More recent examples of hotels being born out of cruise ships hardly offer encouragement. Dubai has yet to begin conversion work on Cunard’s QE2, which they have owned since 2008 – although revised plans were announced last week.
The Dutch company which bought SS Rotterdam in 2005 and opened her as a hotel and conference centre three years later announced last month they expect to have lost a massive €230 million on the deal. Unexpected delays and the cost of removing asbestos from the hull sent the renovation bill rocketing from €6 million to €236 million. Housing corporation Woonbron now expects to recoup no more than €25 million from the sale of the hotel ship.
All of which make hopes of converting Ruby into a hotel and museum to be moored back on Tyneside where she was built seem very remote indeed. But that was the dream of retired diplomat Paul Haggie a couple of years ago. He started work on his plan well in advance of Saga’s announcement, not expecting the ship to become available until about 2018, and had opened negotiations with the North Tyneside council.
Not that the Tyne’s history with retired ships has been too successful so far – nightclub Tuxedo Princess, a converted car ferry where Cheryl Cole once worked as a waitress – was scrapped in 2008.
But I digress. Back to Saga Ruby. Should she be allowed to retire gracefully – and be towed away for scrap – or would you prefer to see her life prolonged in some way, possibly even to carry on cruising under new ownership? Let me know what you think, using the comment box below.
That final cruise, with fares from £4,354, departs from Southampton on December 7 2013. The ship will travel via the Azores to Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, St Lucia, Dominica and St Kitts. After calling at Antigua on Christmas Eve, she will be at sea until making landfall in Madeira on New Year’s Day and will arrive back home, to a tearful reception, on January 7 2014. There won’t be a dry seat in the house.
Meanwhile Quest for Adventure is expected to return to Saga colours and its former name of Saga Pearl II at the completion of its published cruise calendar in November 2013. The final scheduled cruise is a seven-nighter from Barcelona to Funchal, Madeira, arriving on November 14.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:46+00:00 11 July 2012|Cruise Ships|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

Leave A Comment