Golden Iris

Former names: GOLD CLUB, MS Rhapsody, Cunard Princess, Cunard Conquest

Specifications of Golden Iris

Year built1977  /  Age: 45
BuilderBWSC - Burmeister & Wain Shipyard (Copenhagen, Denmark)
Engines (power)Hitachi (15.45 MW / 20719 hp)
Speed19 kn / 35 kph / 22 mph
Length (LOA)164 m / 538 ft
Beam (width)23 m / 75 ft
Gross Tonnage16852 gt
Passengers800 - 959
Crew350
Passengers-to-space ratio20
Decks8
Cabins400
Decks with cabins6
Last Refurbishment2009, Aliaga scrapped in 2022
Former namesGOLD CLUB, MS Rhapsody, Cunard Princess, Cunard Conquest
OwnerMano Holdings Group (via Mano Maritime)
OperatorMano Cruises (Israel)

Golden Iris Review

Review of Golden Iris

The 1975-built/2022-scrapped MS Golden Iris cruise ship was last owned by Mano Maritime Israel (shipping company, a subsidiary of Mano Holdings Group/owned by Moshe Mano) and owner of container carriers/boxships. The vessel was constructed in Copenhagen Denmark (by BWSC/Burmeister & Wain Shipyard) for Cunard Line (via Cunard Cruise Ships Ltd) and launched under the name "MS Cunard Conquest". The liner's last fleetmate was Crown Iris (fka "Louis Majesty" and "Princess Iris").

The vessel (IMO number 7358573) was last Panama-flagged (MMSI 371771000) and registered in Colon.

History - construction and ownership

In 1977, the 1000-passenger ship Cunard Conquest was renamed "Cunard Princess". In 1995, the vessel was sold to StarLauro Cruises (now MSC Cruises). In the period 1995-2006, it was named "MS Rhapsody", with shipowner Gramerco International Corporation. The last shipowner (Mano Maritime) acquired it in 2009 via Mint Marine Ltd.

Golden Iris was retired in 2018 and put up for sale. After being laid up for four years in Greece, the liner was sold for scrap metal in 2022. On July 11, 2022, the 45-year-old vessel (renamed GOLD CLUB) arrived at Turkey's Aliaga Ship Breaking Yard, soon to be beached for dismantling. GOLD CLUB's AIS transmitted for the last time on November 27, 2021 (at 7:09 UTC) showing the ship docked to the south of Port Chalkis/Chalkida.

Golden Iris cruise ship

An interesting fact is that this ship was originally one of two vessels ordered by the USA-based Overseas National Airways. Hugh Hefner (1926-2017, American magazine publisher, the founder of Playboy magazine) was involved in the ship design process, envisioning these vessels as "floating Playboy Clubs".

Golden Iris cruise ship

After the construction in Denmark was completed, Cunard Line transferred Cunard Conquest (hull/BWSC yard number 859) to a shipyard in Italy for outfitting. Cunard Princess entered service in 1977 with a roundtrip maiden voyage from NYC (New York USA) to Bermuda. Later, the ship's deployment expanded to Alaska, Florida, and the Mexican Riviera. The liner was briefly chartered to the Italian shipping company Lauro (now MSC Group) for Mediterranean voyages. In 1990-91, Cunard Princess was chartered by the US government to serve as a recreation center in the Persian Gulf.

Decks and Cabins

Golden Iris staterooms (400 total) are both outside and inside, including 38x Suites. All accommodations are without step-out balconies. All staterooms provide complimentary/as standard amenities 1x Queen-size bed (or 2x single beds), living area (mirrored vanity table with chair, full-length closets /wardrobes with drawers), en-suite bathroom (WC-toilet, shower with curtain, toiletries/soap and shampoo dispensers), TV, mini-bar (refrigerator), direct-dial phone, electronic safe box (chargeable), hairdryer, individual air-conditioning.

The boat has 8 decks, of which 7 are passenger-accessible and 6 with cabins.

At the following picture, you can see the ship's deck plan infographic showing all onboard venues and facilities.

Golden Iris cruise ship deck plan infographic

Shipboard facilities and amenities

Golden Iris has the Main dining room (named Meridian Restaurant), a Lido buffet restaurant (Outrigger Buffet) and Outrigger Cafe.

Golden Iris cruise ship

Despite being built in Denmark, all interior decorations of Golden Iris were done in Italy. Guests can choose from different cruise packages, pleasant staterooms, live entertainment and various onboard events and attractions. The ship was known as Israel's "golden passenger liner".

The ship's facilities included a fitness center (with sea views), wellness and sports facilities (Beauty Salon, Spa, Sauna, Gym, Jogging Track), full duty-free shopping arcade, fully stocked modern bar, spacious swimming pools (including a children's pool), poolside bar, large outdoor Jacuzzi/whirlpool, sundecks, Children Play Room, Library, Card Room, Show Boat Lounge (with dance floor and stage for live performances), Photo Gallery, 8 Bolls Night Club (disco with dance foor and stage), TopSail Lounge, Casino (gaming bar lounge fitted with slot machines), Piano Bar.

Itineraries

Golden Iris' itinerary program was seasonal and based on roundtrips leaving from homeport Haifa Israel.

The ship operated on 2-3-4-5-day voyages to the Greek Islands, visiting Rhodes, Cyprus Island (Limassol, Larnaca), and Crete Island (Agios Nikolaos).

Combined Eastern Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises visited Greece (Thessaloniki, Kavala, Syros Island), Romania (Constanta), and Bulgaria (Varna, Burgas).

The homeporting in Haifa was in the period March through November, with around 60 turnarounds / roundtrips scheduled per year and annual passenger capacity approx 50,000.

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