a feature that could be easily done away with
Make the menus forcibly unavailable, or even better, reboot the operating system if it detects players trying to fiddle with the game to reactivate them?
It's for our own good, after all, ships are nothing but trouble. Ships are like the bad guys our mothers warned us not to hang around with, so why would we want to do that?
whether it was a desirable option or not, the powers that be had decided that maintaining ships was too much work
What if TPTB decided that maintaining OTTD was too much work? Then we wouldn't have OTTD any more, or at least updates to it. That's just a reality of life and we should accept it, rather than taking features for granted. Ships (and canals, and aqueducts) have been taken for granted all these years, and soon we will pay the price.