Royal Caribbean Acquires Silversea – Other Cruise News: New Expedition Ship For Quark – Havana Expansion
by Kevin Griffin
The big question before last week was who would eventually take over Silversea Cruises, and the shoe has finally dropped. After some experimental financing through Chinese interests on recent years, Royal Cariibean Cruises has finally walked away with a two-thirds share of Silversea for about $1 billion. Elsewhere, Quark Expeditions has ordered a new 13,000-ton 200-berth expedition ship, and Turkish port operator Global Ports Holding has signed a 15-year contract to manage the cruise port in Havana.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Royal Caribbean Acquires Silversea
Last week, Monaco-based Silversea Cruises announced that Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd would acquire a 66.7% interest in Silversea Cruises. The price was reported to be about $1 billion, plus the acquisition of a similar amount of debt.
Royal Caribbean Cruises is the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises as well as having significant shareholdings in TUI Cruises of Germany (50%) and Pullmantur Cruises in Spain (49%).
“Silversea is the acknowledged leader in luxury and expedition cruising, two key markets that are poised for growth. Uniting our two companies presents an extraordinary opportunity to expand vacation options for guests and create revenue in strategic growth areas,” said Richard Fain, chairman and ceo of Royal Caribbean Cruises.
Silversea executive chairman Manfredi Lefebvre described the new arrangmenet as “a partnership which will give us capital and financial strength to accelerate our growth and outdistance all of our competitors in the Luxury and Expedition space by building many more small ships.”
Lefebvre will remain in his current role as executive chairman while Roberto Martinoli will remain as ceo. Mark Conroy in the Americas, Peter Shanks in the UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, Alfredo Spadon in Europe and Asia and Adam Armstrong in Australia and New Zealand will continue in their present roles.
Just as Carnival Corp & plc owns Seabourn and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings now includes Regent Seven Seas Cruises, so Royal Caribbean Cruises will now have its own truly upmarket ultra-deluxe brand in Silversea. This would leave MSC Cruises without an equivalent, although there is vague talk about Fincantieri building four 700-berth luxury vessels for MSC.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
New Expedition Ship For Quark
Croatian shipyard Brodosplit has entered into an agreement to construct a new polar expedition ship for Quark Expeditions, a member of the Travelopia group.
Built to Polar Class 6, the ship has been designed to be the most versatile expedition ship operating in the polar regions.
The 13,000 gross ton Polar Class 6 vessel will be 420 feet long, with a draft of 16’9″ and her beam of 70 feet will allow her to enter the St Lawence Seaway to access the Great Lakes.
She will be fully “Safe Return to Port” compliant under DNV GL classification rules and will feature thirteen fully redundant critical systems, twin propellers powered by four engines in two separate engine rooms and a fully operational emergency bridge.
The ship will be built for the high latitudes of the Arctic and Antarctica and will accommodate 200 passengers in 103 luxuriously equipped cabins. She will be supplied with four main engines with diesel-electric generating sets to produce a top speed of 16 knots. Vessel design is by LMG Marin AS of Norway. The new vessel is scheduled for completion in time for the 2020/2021 Antarctic sailing season.
Two helicopters will allow for quicker emergency medical evacuation, and, unique to Quark, all expedition operations will be run by Quark-trained expedition staff. The vessel has capacity for 116 crew. To make the most of the off-ship experience and allow for faster and more flexible landings, twenty Zodiacs will be rapidly deployable from an internal Zodiac hangar with four embarkation points.
This will be the second new ship for Quark in two years, as they have made arrangement with Nico-associated Mystic Cruises to charter their 9,300-ton 176-berth World Explorer during the polar seasons starting in 2018. The World Explorer, now under construction in Portugal, is due to enter service this year.
Quark specializes in polar exploration and boasts a long history of polar firsts, from the first-ever tourist transit of the Arctic’s Northeast Passage to the first commercial passenger circumnavigation of Antarctica.
Turkey-based cruise port operator Global Ports Holding has signed a 15-year management contract with the Cuban company Aries SA to operate the cruise port in Havana.
Starting this week,Global Ports Holding will assume all Havana cruise port operations until 2033. The operator will also work with Cuban partners on the design and technical specification of a cruise port investment program, including new terminals and their business development.
The port currently has two berths and in 2017 welcomed 328,000 cruise passengers, a growth of 156% over 2016. For 2018, more than 500,000 cruise passengers are forecast to visit the port.
As part of Cuba’s investment program, the number of cruise berths in Havana will therefore triple to six by 2024.
According to a report by the US International Trade Commission in 2007, the number of US cruise passengers that would visit all ports in Cuba in the absence of sanctions would range from 50,000 to 481,000 by the third year of unrestricted travel, a performance level that has been more than exceeded, but a decade later.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)