What Ever Happened to Renaissance’s “R” Ships?
I still receive mail from loyal fans of now-defunct Renaissance Cruises, most of whom are wondering where the line's eight "R class" ships ended up. For all the R-ship fans out there, here's a brief summary of the cruise line's history and each ship's current name, location, upcoming itineraries and best deals.
Renaissance Cruises was founded in 1989, and ceased operations on September 25, 2001. During 12 years of operation, the company built a very loyal following of passengers who were drawn to their small ships, port-intensive itineraries and willingness to buck the cruise industry norms.
For example, despite the upscale nature of their ships, there were no formal nights. And until the final few months of operation, smoking was prohibited throughout their ships and children under the age of 18 were not allowed.
After Renaissance filed for bankruptcy, a company called Cruiseinvest purchased six of the eight R-ships at auction, with plans to lease or charter the vessels to existing cruise lines. The remaining two ships were re-possessed by the French Polynesian government.
The R1 and R2, both built in 1998, were out of service until 2002, when Frank Del Rio, former CEO of Renaissance and Joseph Watters, former president of Crystal Cruises, founded Oceania Cruises.
The new cruise line leased the R1 and R2 from Cruiseinvest and renamed them Insignia and Regatta, respectively. At first, many thought Oceania would be a reincarnation of Renaissance, but leaders at the new company were very careful to distinguish themselves as an entirely different line. The startup enjoyed immediate success and a 3rd Renaissance ship, the R5, was leased in 2005 and renamed Nautica. (From 2002 until 2005, the R5 was chartered by Spanish cruise line Pullmantur and operated as the Blue Star.) In 2006, Oceania purchased all three ships outright. To read more about Oceania Cruises, click here. For a list of cruises aboard the Insignia, Regatta and Nautica, click here.
Around the same time Oceania Cruises made their debut in 2002, Princess acquired the R3 and R4 from the French Polynesian government and renamed them Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess, respectively. Both ships were originally built in 1999. The Pacific Princess offers cruises to destinations such as Tahiti, the Mediterranean and South America, and sailed its first full World Cruise in January, 2008. The Tahitian Princess was originally dedicated to Tahiti cruises, but eventually began offering cruises in Alaska, as well as its first full World Cruise departing in January, 2009. In late 2009, Princess renamed the ship Ocean Princess, and it now offers cruises in exotic destinations around the world such as Asia, Africa and Europe. For a list of cruises on the Pacific Princess and Ocean Princess, click here.
Built in 2000, the R6 was purchased by Pullmantur in 2002 and renamed Blue Dream. The R7, also built in 2000, was chartered by German cruise line Delphin Seereisen and renamed Delphin Renaissance. In 2005, Pullmantur purchased the Delphin Renaissance and renamed it Blue Moon. In 2006, Royal Caribbean acquired Pullmantur and eventually announced that these two ships would sail for a brand new cruise line, Azamara Cruises, as the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest. To read more about Azamara Cruises, click here. For a list of cruises on the Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, click here.
Last, but not least, the R8, built in 2001, was leased from Cruiseinvest by Swan Hellenic starting in 2003 and renamed Minerva II. The Minerva II sailed as the line's only ship for four years. In April 2007, the ship was transferred to Princess' fleet and now sails as the Royal Princess. For a list of cruises on the Royal Princess, click here.
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