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Anybody Remember the Star Dancer?

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In 1986 I went on a cruise down the west coast of Mexico from L.A. on the Star Dancer. I never heard of the ship afterwards. Does anybody know what happened to it? I just got back from the second cruise of my life; the Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Whitter, Alaska. The Star Dancer was a nice ship and I have very good memories. However, compared to modern ships like the Sapphire Princess I suppose the Start Dancer could not compete.

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In 1986 I went on a cruise down the west coast of Mexico from L.A. on the Star Dancer. I never heard of the ship afterwards. Does anybody know what happened to it? I just got back from the second cruise of my life; the Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Whitter, Alaska. The Star Dancer was a nice ship and I have very good memories. However, compared to modern ships like the Sapphire Princess I suppose the Start Dancer could not compete.

 

She is now Island Escape...you can google that.....here is a photo from this website....you will have to search on the site for the IE

 

http://www.simplonpc.co.uk/

 

IslandEscape08.jpg

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She has a very interesting history.

 

She was built in 1982 as the cruise-ferry SCANDINAVIA by the Danish shipping line DFDS for their newly-formed subsidiary Scandinavian World Cruises. Originally, DFDS intended to use her on New York-Miami service, but this hinged on being able to repeal the US law requiring that ships trading between US ports be US-built and -flagged. Unfortunately for DFDS, this effort was not successful, and instead the ship had to enter service between New York and Freeport, Bahamas, with passengers and cars then transferred to other, smaller ships to be taken to Florida. Unsurprisingly, this was not a success.

 

In 1983, just over a year after SCANDINAVIA entered service, DFDS decided to cut their losses on this unsuccessful new subsidiary. In preparation for being sold off, Scandianvian World Cruises was stripped of its most valuable asset, the brand-new SCANDINAVIA, which DFDS took over for their own flagship service, between Copenhagen and Oslo. SCANDINAVIA was now the largest and most luxurious ferry in all of Europe. With SCANDINAVIA back home in Denmark, Scandinavian World Cruises was left with only the smaller ships running between the Bahamas and Florida; now that they no longer could "feed" SCANDINAVIA's New York service as originally intended, they were repositioned as gambling cruise ships, and soon afterwards Scandinavian World Cruises was sold to investors who renamed it SeaEscape.

 

However, SCANDINAVIA's stint on the Copenhagen-Oslo run was nearly as short as her original ill-fated New York-Freeport service. After less than two years with DFDS in Europe, the company decided to sell their biggest and most modern ship. The buyer was Stan MacDonald, the entrepreneur who earlier had founded Princess Cruises. He had formed a new company, Sundance Cruises in 1984 with another former ferry, the 1975-built SVEA CORONA, which he renamed SUNDANCER. However, during her first season of Alaskan cruise service in 1984, SUNDANCER ran aground and was declared a total loss. Left without a ship, MacDonald bought the newer, better SCANDINAVIA and with minor alterations she became STARDANCER, Sundance Cruises' second and final ship.

 

STARDANCER was evidently in success because in 1987, Sundance Cruises caught the eye of the Norwegian shipping company Gotaas-Larssen, who purchased them from MacDonald. Gotaas-Larssen already owned two cruise lines: Eastern Cruise Lines ran the 1944-built EMERALD SEAS on three- and four-day cruises from Miami, and Western Cruise Lines ran the 1955-built AZURE SEAS on three- and four-day itineraries from Los Angeles. Having acquired Sundance Cruises, with the much newer, larger STARDANCER and their 7-day cruises from Vancouver to Alaska and from Los Angeles to Mexico, Gotaas-Larssen decided to merge their three cruise lines into one new brand: Admiral Cruises.

 

In addition to Admiral, Gotaas-Larssen also owned a large stake in Royal Caribbean, and in 1988 Admiral Cruises merged with the larger Royal Caribbean. The new corporate holding company for the two lines was named Royal Admiral Cruises, but the separate Royal Caribbean and Admiral Cruises brands were maintained.

 

Seeking to replace the antiquated EMERALD SEAS and AZURE SEAS, Royal Admiral immediately placed an order for a new ship, code-named FUTURE SEAS, which would replace EMERALD SEAS on the 3- and 4-day run from Miami. Meanwhile, the company eventually planned to use STARDANCER to AZURE SEAS from LA, with her own Alaska and Mexico cruises being taken over by Royal Caribbean's ships. However, in 1990 it was decided that it would be better to have only one brand - Royal Caribbean - and to phase out the Admiral brand entirely once the two older ships were retired. Thus, STARDANCER was moved to Royal Caribbean and became VIKING SERENADE, taking up the 3- and 4-day cruises from Los Angeles to Ensenada. Initially, she ran in tandem with AZURE SEAS, which continued under the Admiral brand until she was sold in 1992. Soon after gaining this new role, VIKING SERENADE had a huge refit to bring her in line with the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, which included filling in her car deck with cabins and adding Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge. Meanwhile, the planned FUTURE SEAS entered service in 1990 as Royal Caribbean's NORDIC EMPRESS, taking up 3- and 4-day cruises from Miami, again initially in tandem with EMERALD SEAS which continued as an Admiral ship until 1994 when she too was sold. Admiral Cruises was dissolved upon EMERALD SEAS' sale with AZURE SEAS effectively replaced by VIKING SERENADE (the former STARDANCER), EMERALD SEAS effectively replaced by NORDIC EMPRESS (the planned FUTURE SEAS), and STARDANCER's own 7-day itineraries taken over by other members of the Royal Caribbean fleet.

 

The former SCANDINAVIA/STARDANCER continued on her three- and four-day cruises from LA until 2001 when, after eleven years as VIKING SERENADE, she was called upon for a new role: to start up a brand-new cruise line, Island Cruises, a joint-venture between Royal Caribbean and the British tour operator First Choice. She was given another large refit and became the very first Island Cruises ship, ISLAND ESCAPE. She continues as such today. She was replaced by the huge MONARCH OF THE SEAS, almost twice her size, on the 3- and 4-day runs from Miami. The former FUTURE SEAS/NORDIC EMPRESS - since renamed EMPRESS OF THE SEAS in line with Royal Caribbean's current corporate identity - is thus the last remaining vestige of Admiral Cruises within the Royal Caribbean fleet. However, ISLAND ESCAPE, the former SCANDINAVIA/STARDANCER/VIKING SERENADE remains for now in the Royal Caribbean family, serving the British market in the summer and the Brasilian market in the winter. She has been a huge success as the "trailblazer ship" of Island Cruises, and has since been joined by the much newer ISLAND STAR, formerly Celebrity Cruises' HORIZON, and will probably be joined - and eventually, replaced - by further former Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships in coming years.

 

You can read more about Island Cruises and ISLAND ESCAPE here.

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We sailed twice on Stardancer, Alaska RT from Vancouver, and enjoyed her very much.

 

I was able to visit her in San Francisco, after she became Viking Serenade. I personally thought the modifications detracted from the ambience she had had.

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In 1986 I went on a cruise down the west coast of Mexico from L.A. on the Star Dancer. I never heard of the ship afterwards. Does anybody know what happened to it? I just got back from the second cruise of my life; the Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Whitter, Alaska. The Star Dancer was a nice ship and I have very good memories. However, compared to modern ships like the Sapphire Princess I suppose the Start Dancer could not compete.

 

The Star Dancer became Royal Caribbean's Viking Serenade and sailed 3 and 4 night Baja itineraries out of San Pedro for many years. She was sold to Island Cruises which is half owned by Royal Caribbean in 2001 and now sails as the Island Escape.

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I was fortuanate to cruise on her both as the Stardancer on a 7 day Alaska itinerary and the Viking Seranade on a Los Angeles 4 day itinerary. It was fun both times even though the cabins were miniscule.

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This was the first ship I sailed on in 1989. What a great experience. Had a great time, the ship was beautiful and the crew was great. My question is where did the officer's from that ship go? Anybody know? They were great and mingled well with the passengers. Thanks, Shirley:)

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The Captain of the Viking Serenade, Kent Ringborn, went on to be the Master of the Radiance of the Seas. Captain Kent retired in May of 2005.

 

Capatain Yngvar Knutsen the Staff Captain of the Viking Serenade is not the Master of the Splendour of the Seas. Captain Hakan Admarker of the Viking Serenade is now the Master of the Grandeur of the Seas. Bib John who was also a Staff Captain of the Viking Serenade is now the Master of the Majesty of the Seas.

 

The crew was reassigned to various ships throught the Royal Caribbean fleet.

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Oh yes! I was 7 months pregnant with my son (he's going to be 19 in February)! Gosh time flies! We did a one week to Mexico, my mother and I, as my father couldn't get time off from work! I also did a short Xmas 4 day on her when she became the Viking Serenade!

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I sailed on the Stardancer in May of 1986 Mexican Riviera cruise. It was my second cruise, my first having been on the SS Constitution in Hawaii---after the miniscule single cabin on the Constitution, the double room I had on the Stardancer seemed huge---we even had a bathtub!

I still have the brochures and the article in Cruise Travel about her, as well as the Daily Breezes [the daily paper with all of the activities]!

We had a great time on that cruise!!

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Yes, I remember her very well. It was our first cruise. The Alaska one. I remember the wonderful vieuwing from the dining room, whales and dolfins swimming along the side of the ship. Huge iceberg calvings in Glacier bay. Every night another country theme in the dining room. We thought (what did we know about cruising) it to be a very relaxing week. We have never been so busy in our lives. We were the only Europeans on board, had a nice chat with the Norwegian captain and the excursions were fabulous. Driving in an old schoolbus to an old gold minign camp through this totally deserted landscape. Canoing in the middle of nowhere. And there was so much organized on the ship. We did not even manage to participate in half of the activities.

Wonderful memories

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When she was still Stardancer with car decks, we took a leisurely 2 week drive up the Pacific coast to Vancouver and spent a week there. Then, when Stardancer was transitioning from Alaska summer trips to Mexican winter ones, we drove the car on board and had a 6day trip to LA from Vancouver, stopping at San Francisco and Catalina.

During that voyage, we got the announced merger notice and the change of name to Viking Serenade. Soon thereafter, the ship spent several months at National ship yards here stripping out the car decks, and adding cabins and a Viking Lounge aft of the funnel. Subsequently, it was found that when operating at cruise speed, she had a marked tendency to dig her stern down, so she was again drydocked and pontoon like appendages were added to either side of the stern. They are visible today in the picture posted above.

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Hi,

 

I'm going to for a 7 day cruise around the Mediterranean on the Island Escape tomorrow (01/05/07)...

 

Interesting to hear about the ship's history.

 

Gazz1e.

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She has a very interesting history.

 

She was built in 1982 as the cruise-ferry SCANDINAVIA by the Danish shipping line DFDS for their newly-formed subsidiary Scandinavian World Cruises. Originally, DFDS intended to use her on New York-Miami service, but this hinged on being able to repeal the US law requiring that ships trading between US ports be US-built and -flagged. Unfortunately for DFDS, this effort was not successful, and instead the ship had to enter service between New York and Freeport, Bahamas, with passengers and cars then transferred to other, smaller ships to be taken to Florida. Unsurprisingly, this was not a success.

 

In 1983, just over a year after SCANDINAVIA entered service, DFDS decided to cut their losses on this unsuccessful new subsidiary. In preparation for being sold off, Scandianvian World Cruises was stripped of its most valuable asset, the brand-new SCANDINAVIA, which DFDS took over for their own flagship service, between Copenhagen and Oslo. SCANDINAVIA was now the largest and most luxurious ferry in all of Europe. With SCANDINAVIA back home in Denmark, Scandinavian World Cruises was left with only the smaller ships running between the Bahamas and Florida; now that they no longer could "feed" SCANDINAVIA's New York service as originally intended, they were repositioned as gambling cruise ships, and soon afterwards Scandinavian World Cruises was sold to investors who renamed it SeaEscape.

 

However, SCANDINAVIA's stint on the Copenhagen-Oslo run was nearly as short as her original ill-fated New York-Freeport service. After less than two years with DFDS in Europe, the company decided to sell their biggest and most modern ship. The buyer was Stan MacDonald, the entrepreneur who earlier had founded Princess Cruises. He had formed a new company, Sundance Cruises in 1984 with another former ferry, the 1975-built SVEA CORONA, which he renamed SUNDANCER. However, during her first season of Alaskan cruise service in 1984, SUNDANCER ran aground and was declared a total loss. Left without a ship, MacDonald bought the newer, better SCANDINAVIA and with minor alterations she became STARDANCER, Sundance Cruises' second and final ship.

 

STARDANCER was evidently in success because in 1987, Sundance Cruises caught the eye of the Norwegian shipping company Gotaas-Larssen, who purchased them from MacDonald. Gotaas-Larssen already owned two cruise lines: Eastern Cruise Lines ran the 1944-built EMERALD SEAS on three- and four-day cruises from Miami, and Western Cruise Lines ran the 1955-built AZURE SEAS on three- and four-day itineraries from Los Angeles. Having acquired Sundance Cruises, with the much newer, larger STARDANCER and their 7-day cruises from Vancouver to Alaska and from Los Angeles to Mexico, Gotaas-Larssen decided to merge their three cruise lines into one new brand: Admiral Cruises.

 

In addition to Admiral, Gotaas-Larssen also owned a large stake in Royal Caribbean, and in 1988 Admiral Cruises merged with the larger Royal Caribbean. The new corporate holding company for the two lines was named Royal Admiral Cruises, but the separate Royal Caribbean and Admiral Cruises brands were maintained.

 

Seeking to replace the antiquated EMERALD SEAS and AZURE SEAS, Royal Admiral immediately placed an order for a new ship, code-named FUTURE SEAS, which would replace EMERALD SEAS on the 3- and 4-day run from Miami. Meanwhile, the company eventually planned to use STARDANCER to AZURE SEAS from LA, with her own Alaska and Mexico cruises being taken over by Royal Caribbean's ships. However, in 1990 it was decided that it would be better to have only one brand - Royal Caribbean - and to phase out the Admiral brand entirely once the two older ships were retired. Thus, STARDANCER was moved to Royal Caribbean and became VIKING SERENADE, taking up the 3- and 4-day cruises from Los Angeles to Ensenada. Initially, she ran in tandem with AZURE SEAS, which continued under the Admiral brand until she was sold in 1992. Soon after gaining this new role, VIKING SERENADE had a huge refit to bring her in line with the rest of the Royal Caribbean fleet, which included filling in her car deck with cabins and adding Royal Caribbean's signature Viking Crown Lounge. Meanwhile, the planned FUTURE SEAS entered service in 1990 as Royal Caribbean's NORDIC EMPRESS, taking up 3- and 4-day cruises from Miami, again initially in tandem with EMERALD SEAS which continued as an Admiral ship until 1994 when she too was sold. Admiral Cruises was dissolved upon EMERALD SEAS' sale with AZURE SEAS effectively replaced by VIKING SERENADE (the former STARDANCER), EMERALD SEAS effectively replaced by NORDIC EMPRESS (the planned FUTURE SEAS), and STARDANCER's own 7-day itineraries taken over by other members of the Royal Caribbean fleet.

 

The former SCANDINAVIA/STARDANCER continued on her three- and four-day cruises from LA until 2001 when, after eleven years as VIKING SERENADE, she was called upon for a new role: to start up a brand-new cruise line, Island Cruises, a joint-venture between Royal Caribbean and the British tour operator First Choice. She was given another large refit and became the very first Island Cruises ship, ISLAND ESCAPE. She continues as such today. She was replaced by the huge MONARCH OF THE SEAS, almost twice her size, on the 3- and 4-day runs from Miami. The former FUTURE SEAS/NORDIC EMPRESS - since renamed EMPRESS OF THE SEAS in line with Royal Caribbean's current corporate identity - is thus the last remaining vestige of Admiral Cruises within the Royal Caribbean fleet. However, ISLAND ESCAPE, the former SCANDINAVIA/STARDANCER/VIKING SERENADE remains for now in the Royal Caribbean family, serving the British market in the summer and the Brasilian market in the winter. She has been a huge success as the "trailblazer ship" of Island Cruises, and has since been joined by the much newer ISLAND STAR, formerly Celebrity Cruises' HORIZON, and will probably be joined - and eventually, replaced - by further former Royal Caribbean or Celebrity ships in coming years.

 

You can read more about Island Cruises and ISLAND ESCAPE here.

 

I sailed on her in July of 1991 as the Viking Serenade for my first total solar eclipse cruise.

 

The trip really sold me on cruising!

 

Mike

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Our first cruise (Mexican Riviera) was on the Stardancer. That's what got us hooked on cruising.

 

Same here. We met her in Puerto Vallerta and came back to LA. It was only 4 days since neither of us was sure cruising was something we'd enjoy. We've been on several cruises since...and it was all her fault.

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I can't remember what year my mom and I went to the Mexican Riviera on the Stardancer. Must have been 85-86 sometime. Our cruise coming home was interupted by a sea rescue. Our ship along with all others in the vicinity had to respond to a sail boat that was sinking. Needless to say, we were about 6 hours late getting into port:rolleyes:

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I had the pleasure of working onboard the Stardancer (I was the guitarist in Stanley's Pub) from 85-87. The vessels master was Capt. Kjell Smitterberg ( one of the finest gentlemen you'd ever meet). Great crew and we always seemed to have a great bunch of passengers. I distinctly remember hanging out on the bridge once (in the days when that was permitted)..cruising up a channel outside of Juneau, AK...we were picking up the local fishing boat's radio conversation when we heard one boat say to another "oh my gosh! the biggest milk carton I've ever seen is coming right at me!" We could see a small craft (about 1/2 mile away) hurrying out of the way. She may not have been the prettiest ship..but she was sure fun! I'm very happy she's still sailing.

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My late father and mother sailed on the Stardancer on an Alaska itinerary and there was an incident where the ship rolled to a 45 degree angle. Lots of breakage and freaked out people. They were ready to disembark after that. Not sure what they did do, but they really liked the ship prior to that experience.

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In 1986 I went on a cruise down the west coast of Mexico from L.A. on the Star Dancer. I never heard of the ship afterwards. Does anybody know what happened to it? I just got back from the second cruise of my life; the Sapphire Princess from Vancouver to Whitter, Alaska. The Star Dancer was a nice ship and I have very good memories. However, compared to modern ships like the Sapphire Princess I suppose the Start Dancer could not compete.

 

She became the Viking Serenade when Royal Caribbean bought her and in 2001 she was sold to Island Cruises and sails as the Island Escape overseas.

 

Karen

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Pubsinger - we may have heard you perform!

 

We were on the Stardancer (our first cruise ever) to Alaska......a 7 day R/T out of Vancouver BC back in September of 1986 - would you have been on the ship at that time?

 

I remember taking a picture of my DH in front of the Stanley's Pub sign because his name is - Stanley! :D

 

I remember being impressed with the performer at the Pub - so I'm sure it must have been you!

 

 

I had the pleasure of working onboard the Stardancer (I was the guitarist in Stanley's Pub) from 85-87. The vessels master was Capt. Kjell Smitterberg ( one of the finest gentlemen you'd ever meet). Great crew and we always seemed to have a great bunch of passengers. I distinctly remember hanging out on the bridge once (in the days when that was permitted)..cruising up a channel outside of Juneau, AK...we were picking up the local fishing boat's radio conversation when we heard one boat say to another "oh my gosh! the biggest milk carton I've ever seen is coming right at me!" We could see a small craft (about 1/2 mile away) hurrying out of the way. She may not have been the prettiest ship..but she was sure fun! I'm very happy she's still sailing.

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Is that you, Charlie Dawson? Your act was the most enjoyable memory I have of Stardancer. You and I and the ship's doctor used to converse during your breaks. It was September 1987. I was misemployed as 'computer purser'. (I was a dBase programmer, and it turned out what they really wanted was a hardware technician. [story of my seagoing life for the ensuing nine years. Only time I gelled was when I was paired with a programmer.])

 

Remember that hotel in Haines whose bartender created a cocktail he named a 'Duck Fart'?

 

 

I had the pleasure of working onboard the Stardancer (I was the guitarist in Stanley's Pub) from 85-87. The vessels master was Capt. Kjell Smitterberg ( one of the finest gentlemen you'd ever meet). Great crew and we always seemed to have a great bunch of passengers. I distinctly remember hanging out on the bridge once (in the days when that was permitted)..cruising up a channel outside of Juneau, AK...we were picking up the local fishing boat's radio conversation when we heard one boat say to another "oh my gosh! the biggest milk carton I've ever seen is coming right at me!" We could see a small craft (about 1/2 mile away) hurrying out of the way. She may not have been the prettiest ship..but she was sure fun! I'm very happy she's still sailing.

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I had the pleasure of working onboard the Stardancer (I was the guitarist in Stanley's Pub) from 85-87. The vessels master was Capt. Kjell Smitterberg ( one of the finest gentlemen you'd ever meet). Great crew and we always seemed to have a great bunch of passengers. I distinctly remember hanging out on the bridge once (in the days when that was permitted)..cruising up a channel outside of Juneau, AK...we were picking up the local fishing boat's radio conversation when we heard one boat say to another "oh my gosh! the biggest milk carton I've ever seen is coming right at me!" We could see a small craft (about 1/2 mile away) hurrying out of the way. She may not have been the prettiest ship..but she was sure fun! I'm very happy she's still sailing.

 

My wife and i sailed this ship in November 1986 on our honeymoon. It was obviously our first cruise since I was 19 and she was 18. To us it was a floating city complete with cars, boats and motor homes stored in its belly for the ride south. Funny how things go as she was pregnant at the time with what would be my daughter heather who now works on a cruise ship. There was a lounge/pub performer on board back then and i believe his name "may" have been Jackie?? God help me if i actually got that right because i cant remember what i had for lunch and that was only an hour ago. I wonder if that was you? I do remember the ships first officer was a big strapping Norwegian Guy Named Connie. But I really think if your the person i remember we could have a laugh at a story im sure you would remember.....

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Amazing. I have been trying for years to remember what RCI ship I sailed on for my first cruise in 1991. It was the LA-Catalina-Ensenada trip. I guess it was the Viking Serenade!

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