MS Kristina Regina arrives at Akureyri, Iceland
Photo ©2009 Aaron Saunders
Today, we’re talking about the imminent departure of a ship you’ve probably never heard of: the MS Kristina Regina.

Operated by Finland-based Kristina Cruises, the venerable Kristina Regina was built in 1960 as a car and passenger ferry before being re-fitted as a cruise ship in 1988.  During this time, her steam engines were replaced in favor of diesel ones, thereby guaranteeing many years of happy sailing would lie ahead.
With her graceful, mini-ocean liner lines and spotless white-and-aqua hull, this cozy little ship has garnered a loyal following of passengers and maritime enthusiasts drawn to her simply because she is so different: she represents an age of ocean travel that has long since passed us by.  
But due to Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) 2010 requirements, which impose heavy restrictions on the layout, construction materials, and fire prevention onboard older ships, Kristina Regina will sail her last revenue cruise this August, after which she faces an uncertain future.
Complying with the new SOLAS 2010 regulations, which come into effect in October of this year, tend to be prohibitively expensive for older vessels.  Their interiors are largely made of highly-polished (and highly combustible) woods, and their interior cabin layouts, particularly on lower decks, can be a veritable maze of blind-corners and dead-end passageways.  Newer cruise ships are designed to have passenger corridors that run mainly straight for the length of the ship, and do not dead-end.  Additionally, they are required to have non-combustible materials in their interior design so as to mitigate the effects of any fire that may break out on board.
The line has already announced a replacement vessel.  Built in 1982, the MS Kristina Katrina  couldn’t be more different from her predecessor.  The line has taken extensive steps to ensure Kristina Katrina offers the same, cozy atmosphere and unique destinations that have been the hallmarks of Kristina Cruises for many years. 
Many classic vessels will be forced into retirement this fall.  For some, it will be a welcome change: there are certain ships sailing now that probably should have been retired a decade ago.  For others, including Kristina Regina, it is bittersweet: when we saw the ship docked in Akureyri, Iceland last summer,  her paint was gleaming just as brightly as our ship, the much newer Crown Princess, and her passengers disembarking just as happily as if they were on her maiden voyage.
One got the sense she could have sailed on happily for another fifty years.
To find out more about Kristina Cruises, and the venerable Kristina Regina‘s last season, visit the Kristina Cruises webpage.
 

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