With so many questions circulating around the cruise industry, why are some cruise lines choosing now as the moment to launch – or relaunch – their cruise operations?
With many of the larger cruise lines selling off older stock for low prices, several cruise and shipping operators have identified that now is the right moment to buy. The larger operators are shedding older small and midsize ships that no longer fit with their brand. But it is their size – along with their unusually attractive price point – that make them the ideal addition to new and specialist fleets?
British-based cruise line Fred. Olsen has purchased Holland America Line’s Rotterdam and Amsterdam, with plans to rename them Bolette and Borealis. Chairman Fred Olsen Jr welcomed the two vessels to their fleet, confirming that ‘they will fit seamlessly into our existing fleet of small ships’. The ships are undergoing rebranding work before they enter the fleet later in 2020. Meanwhile, Holland America Line have announced that they will name their latest newbuild, currently under construction with Fincantieri, after the departed Rotterdam. The new Rotterdam is the seventh vessel to bear the name and will be designated as the flagship of Holland America Line’s fleet.
Greek ferry operator Seajets has bought P&O Cruise’s Oceana. Seajets is an independent high speed vessel and ferry company operating around the Cycladic islands. At 77,499 gross tonnage she outweighs Seajets next largest vessel Tera Jet by some 60,000. Seajets rechristened Oceana as Queen of the Oceans. It is speculated that her acquisition could mark the start of Seajets’ expansion into cruise operations. Seajets and CEO Marios Iliopoulos have not yet commented on the acquisition.
Another Greek company to acquire a vessel sold by a larger cruise line is Celestyal Cruises. The company have expanded their small fleet by purchasing Costa Cruise’s Costa NeoRomantica. Only founded in 2014, Celestyal have a small fleet of five ships including the Costa NeoRomantica. The itinerary features an East Mediterranean and Cuban routes. Celestyal’s CEO Chris Theophilides was pleased to welcome the mid-sized ship to the fleet, noting that it particularly suited their business model.
After nearly 70 years as a specialist cruise line, Swan Hellenic sadly sold its fleet in 2017. However, they announced a welcome relaunch in July 2020! Swan Hellenic return to the seas with two newbuild vessels, contracted to the Helsinki shipyard Oy. They will continue their long tradition of far-flung itineraries by entering the expedition cruise market. The cruise line promises ‘understated elegance’ with customer wellbeing at the heart of their brand vision. Passengers will enjoy spacious cabins, a boutique luxury hotel feel and a chic finish the line have dubbed ‘Scandi-luxe’. The ships are as-yet unnamed, although the projects have been dubbed Vega 1 and Vega 2. They are projected to be launched in 2021.
Although few cruise lines are currently sailing it seems that there are still opportunities in the newbuild and refurbishment markets. Brands that have acquired second hand vessels still need to undergo refurbishment work to bring the ships in line with their brand vision.