|Tropicana was built in 1966 at the Cockrell Boatyards in Hoboken, Belgium, and christened the Princess Paola in honor of the woman who would become that country's queen in 1993 & would see extensive duty as a ferry. A decade and a half later, a Greek shipping concern headed by international wheeler-dealer Takis Kiriakidis purchased the Paola for $28 million, plunked it into the port of Piraeus, renamed it the Sea Palace, and literally cut the ship in half to lengthen it 60 feet. The Guinness Mahon Bank of England, which financed the Kiriakidis deal, wound up with the boat. Guinness Mahon sold it to British investor Graham Kornish, who renamed it the Tropicana after the renowned casino in Havana. Eventually Kornish, too, would lose the boat back to Guinness Mahon. The bank then leased the vessel to day-cruise armada SeaEscape, who operated it out of ports in Texas and on both coasts of Florida. SeaEscape experienced some financial problems of its own, and in 1991 the boat went into dry dock.