Ok, I only have crusade and wasn't aware of ships that are not upgradable.
I do agree that upgrade costs are ridiculously high (and that is even when not considering special resources - see my recent bug report in the support forum). But in the games I've played so far, by the time it became an option, Tourism income was so high it didn't matter. I've yet to try this with 3.7 though: toursim was supposed to be rebalanced there. If so, it would be about time to bring down rush build and upgrade costs to a reasonable level.
I also agree that 'losing' crew experience is bad. I like the idea of maintaining ship crews and assigning them to new ships rather than having them stay on outdated designs that might end up as cannon fodder. But I fear that this may not be easy to implement.