Tugs towed the 600-passenger vessel from her lay-up moorings close to Piraeus-Athens (Greece) on Saturday, July 23, bringing to an end the aborted project that would have seen her converted into one of the largest private yachts in the world.
SAGA had sold the vessel back in April 2019 to Aqua Explorer Holdings, an obscure BVI-registered company that immediately sent her to Greece and renamed her from Saga Pearl II to Pearl II.
Initial rumors about the future of the ship supposed further cruising under Greek ownership or service as a floating hotel. It quickly became known in the cruise sector that the company was controlled by Saudi Arabian interests, via Greek intermediaries, who planned to convert the Pearl II into a private yacht.
The super-yacht project did not progress as the vessel was delivered at the height of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's anti-corruption crackdown with mass arrests of Saudi Arabian princes, ministers, and businessmen.
Pearl II was put back on the sales market just when the COVID crisis started, also resulting in a purge of older vessels. 39 have been scrapped since the Coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan (China).
Pearl II was built for Hadag Cruises (Germany) as "Astor" and went on with a varied career, sailing for different operators (Safmarine, Deutsche Seerederei, Seetours, Transocean Cruises, Club Cruise).