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Overheard down at the docks: The latest cruise industry news


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In the current turmoil, the news seems to change every day, with different cruise lines making plans for the future, offloading older ships and, miraculously, a phoenix or two rising from the ashes.

We have to start with the sad demise of Cruise and Maritime Voyages, which went into administration in late July. This British line operated a mishmash fleet of rather elderly ships, but with great itineraries and at an excellent price. Their well-founded global expansion plans, with additional tonnage joining the fleet, meant that when disaster struck in the shape of the virus, they were ill-equipped to weather the storm without additional investment. On the other hand, they had an excellent business model and were poised for substantial growth, so a reincarnation is not impossible.

In contrast, another well-loved British cruise line which closed its doors in 2017 is poised for resurrection in 2021. The Swan Hellenic brand was acquired at the time by G Adventures, and has now been sold on to a private group, currently building a totally new vessel to go into operation in 2021, operating global expedition cruises.

Swan Hellenic - Vega 1 pool deck (artist's impression)

So far other cruise lines are standing firm, with a few local failures such as Birka Cruises in Sweden, FTI in German and Pullmantur in Spain. As a result, some much loved older ships are lining up to be scrapped, including ships originally built for Royal Caribbean, such as Sovereign of the Seas and Monarch of the Seas. Carnival Corporation is taking the opportunity to create a leaner newer fleet, with at least nine ships disposed of so far. Some vessels are at the breakers, while others have been acquired, in some cases by mysterious unidentified buyers.

Holland America Line's Amsterdam and Rotterdam, two of their older and smaller ships (1,380 and 1,404 passengers respectively), have gone to Fred. Olsen. It is no secret that they have been looking for additional capacity for some time, so they will have welcomed the opportunity to snap up these two well built ships, renamed as Bolette and Borealis, two traditional Fred. Olsen names.

Holland America Line - MS Rotterdam

P&O Cruises' Oceana has ended up at the Greek island-hopping ferry company Seajets, so it will be interesting to see what plans they have for her, particularly in view of her loyal British following. And staying with the Greeks, Celestyal have acquired Costa neoRomantica. Celestyal have also already suspended operations through to March 2021.

As we speculate on undisclosed buyers, our thoughts turn to start-ups, and one in particular, Blue World, which has been on the hunt for appropriate second hand tonnage for some time. Their advanced plans are to create a health and wellness hybrid, including apartments for purchase as well as cabins for cruisers. With much of their investment already in place, this could be a great opportunity for them.

Silversea - Silver Origin delivery ceremony

Royal Caribbean have taken the opportunity to acquire the final one third stake in Silversea, which is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of the cruise giant. Initial concerns about the acquisition have proved to be unfounded, with investment in new tonnage and refurbishment of existing vessels. Venetian Society members are reporting back that the product is better than ever, and one of the good news stories of the summer was the delivery of Silver Origin, Silversea's newbuild for the Galapagos Islands.

Obviously in these circumstances, rumours whip around the industry like wildfire - this company is up for sale, that ship is changing hands. Rest assured we will keep our ears to the ground to continue to bring you the very latest news.

Meet the author

Edwina Lonsdale is Managing Director and together with husband Matthew, owner of Mundy Cruising. Most recently she's cruised on Windstar and has also sailed with Silversea, Seabourn, Regent Seven Seas, Crystal, SeaDream, Ponant, AmaWaterways and Aqua Expeditions. Her favourite destination is the Galapagos however she's also enjoyed cruises in the Mediterranean, Danube, Middle East, East Africa & Indian Ocean, Brahmaputra, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, the Mekong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, the Caribbean and the Arctic. When she’s not travelling she loves reading, food and wine.

More about Edwina

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