It’s the end of the road for one of the most recognised liners of the late 20th century, as she arrives at Alang for her beaching where she will meet the scrapyard torchflame.
Oasia as she is now called has arrived at Alang in India where she will be purposefully beached at full speed in order for the start of the scrapping process to begin.
It’s the passing of an era for British shipbuilding too for when she was completed in 1973 for Norwegian America Line as Vistafjord at the Swan Hunter yard on the Tyne, she went down in the history books as the last liner built in Britain.
When Norwegian America Line ceased trading, both Vistafjord and Sagafjord were sold to Cunard in 1983 and kept their original names.
Both ships would have a long and successful career with Cunard until Sagafjord left the fleet under charter to Transocean in 1996 where she was renamed Gripsholm briefly. She then was sold to Saga where she began operating in 1997 as Saga Rose.
Her younger sister Vistafjord was renamed Caronia in 1999 and she remained with Cunard until 2005 where she joined her sister at Saga and was renamed Saga Ruby. The sale had been announced in 2003 but Cunard had afforded Caronia a farewell season with the company before she would join her new owners.
Together, both sisters had been re-united, although it would only last 4 years. Saga Rose was retired from the fleet in 2009 and the following year saw her meet her maker at the scrapyard in China.
Saga Ruby continued in the Saga fleet until it was announced in 2013 that she would be leaving the fleet and that she would spend her retirement years as a floating hotel/conference centre in the Far East. She left Southampton on her final cruise for the company in December 2013 before arriving back into Southampton to de-store on 10th January 2014. She would then leave later that day for the final time from Southampton.
Our Editor, Anthony and Assistant Editor Christian were able to make a visit to Saga Ruby on the day of her final departure from Southampton. Organised by our good friend, Harry Cotterill of Cruise Cotterill, Anthony, Christian and fellow shipping enthusiast and good friend, Daniel Gosling were able to say their final goodbyes to Saga Ruby both on board and from the quayside as the grand old dame of the seas departed for ‘pastures new’.
Unfortunately, the plans for the ship to become a floating hotel/conference centre ultimately collapsed and she has been in the Far East since, almost forgotten. Sadly there has been no last minute reprieve for the former Cunarder and now is awaiting that final push unto the beach at Alang where she will be taken apart piece by piece by the scrapyard’s torchflame.
So from us all at Cruisemarsh, we’d like to say farewell to a maritime icon. There won’t be another quite like her and she now departs into the annuals of history much to the heavy hearts of her loyal followers and enthusiasts. She’ll be fondly remembered by all who have sailed on her as Vistafjord, Caronia and Saga Ruby. Our Editor, Anthony, has fond memories of his cruise on Caronia in 2002 and with the subsequent visit to her as Saga Ruby in 2013 and 2014, she will not be forgotten.
Farewell old gal, farewell!