Abandoned Cruise Ship Capsizes

The Ocean Dream, February 27 (video still)

Published Feb 29, 2016 9:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The former Sun Princess, built in 1972 and best known as a guest star on the TV series Love Boat, has capsized and partially sunk off Thailand, resulting in an oil spill.

The vessel, recently renamed Ocean Dream and flagged in Sierra Leone, has sat at anchor for at least a year, abandoned by its owners with no crew and no maintenance, in spite of pleas from the authorities to remove her from the area.

As of Sunday, crews were using dispersants and skimmers to clean up the spill. Video imagery shows the extent of the oily sheen and discoloration of the water. 

The Fincantieri-built ship was launched as the Seaward, but she was sold before delivery and started her service life as the Spirit of London. She was owned and operated under various names by Norwegian, P&O, Princess, Premier, CTC, Festival, Cruise Elysia and Club Cruise. In early 2012, Runfeng Ocean Deluxe Cruises bought her and began sailing her under the name of Ocean Dream, complete with a freshly painted design on her bow, running a cruise route from Haikou to Vietnam.

Thai media report her current manager as Shanghai Eastime Ship Management, a subsidiary of Glory Sail International Limited; an entity of the same name has been blacklisted from the company registry of the British Virgin Islands for nonpayment of fees.

The web sites for her reported owners were not accessible as of February 29.

An inspection by the ITF in 2013 reportedly found significant violations of labor, wage and safety standards aboard. 

Her most recent, publicly available sale price put her value in the range of $3 million. Thai authorities reportedly intend to sue to recover wreck removal and remediation costs from her owner.