By NALLE WESTMAN
For ocean liner aficionados this summer is the last chance to spot most of the pre-1980s cruisers on duty. On October 1st 2010 the new SOLAS 2010 safety regulations will force most of these beauties into retirement.
The complete set of SOLAS regulations is highly complex but among the major points in the latest rules are requirements to remove all combustible materials, installation of low-level lighting systems, smoke detectors, sprinklers, fire detectors and fire alarm systems in all accommodations and service areas.
To fulfill SOLAS 2010 the estimated capital expenditure for these older ships is around 5-20 million USD. In most cases the conversion of the +30 years old cruiser exceeds the value of the ship, and owners may choose to scrap them instead.
Holland-America Line’s famous transatlantic passenger ship ss Rotterdam of 1959 found a new lease of life as a floating hotel/congress center/maritime museum in Rotterdam harbor this spring after 5 years of extensive restoration. The original 30 million euros restoration budget eventually mushroomed to whopping 210 million euros. To remove the asbestos alone was a huge task.
Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth 2, which retired from service in 2008, faces uncertain future. The ship was sold to investors from Dubai with an intention to become a floating hotel like ss Rotterdam, but due to the global economic crisis the whole project has been put to hold.
Swedish American Line’s last transatlantic passenger ship Kungsholm of 1966 operates these day’s under the name Mona Lisa. The ship has similar plans for the future as a floating hotel and maritime museum in it’s old home port Gothenburg, Sweden, but Mr Lars Hallgren, the initiator of the project to save the Kungsholm announced in June that it’s not going to happen due some political stiffness of Gothenburg City Hall. The time is running out.