The Pride of British Cruise Ships in 1995 and 2020 – Other Cruise News: Problems at Vigo

by Kevin Griffin

This week we compare two favourite or about to be favourite British cruise ships, both built by Meyer Werft at Papenburg, and both christened by royalty, and we have a qiuick look at happennings at the Barerros shipyard in the Spanish port of Vigo.


The Pride of British Cruise Ships in 1995 and 2020

Deliveries for the UK-based fleet are not frequent, usually one or perhaps two a year. An interesting turnaround happened this summer when two ships almost traded places in the UK cruising firmament.

Spirit of Discovery (Credit Zoe Ayton - Portland Harbour Authority Portland Harbour Authority)

Spirit of Discovery (Credit Zoe Ayton – Portland Harbour Authority Portland Harbour Authority)

First, in July, arrived Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Discovery. The first of two newbuildings to come from the Meyer Werft yard, the ship received favourable reviews on her first few cruises. Her christening took pace in Dover on July 5, when the Duchess of Cornwall did the honours.

Within not much more than a month, the Spirit of Discovery has taken pride of place as a respectable British cruise ship away from P&O’s Oriana as the latter ended her UK-based career.

Such a thing is not surprising of course as before Saga started operating its own cruise ships the company were the largest single client of P&O Cruises.

Oriana - P&O Cruises

Oriana – P&O Cruises

The Chinese cruise line start up Astro Ocean Cruise took delivery of the Oriana on August 12, with the ship leaving the UK for the last time on August 16.

Astro Ocean is a joint venture of China Travel Services and China Ocean Shipping (COSCO), with V.Ships acting as vessel manager.

After a refit in a Greek shipyard, the Piano Land is scheduled to arrive at Hong Kong in late September and spend October and November running short cruises from Shenzhen.

She will then change her home port to Xiamen to in December.

PSR is Passenger Space Ratio or the number of gross tons space per passenger. And this is by far the measure of change over the past quarter century, with the average middle-class UK passenger now enjoying more than half as much space again as they did in 1995.

Oriana was also a product of Meyer Werft, but she was christened by The Queen herself.

Problems at Vigo

Havila Capella

Havila Capella

At Hijos de J. Barreras, the yard has halted the construction of the two coastal passenger ships for Hurtigruten competitor, Havila Kystruten. Apparently the company is facing financial difficulties.

Two of Havila’s new Norwegian coastal service ships are under construction at Barreras’ Vigo shipyard, while the other pair have been ordered from the Tershan Shipyard in Turkey.

Construction of the two Vigo-built cruise shipss, valued at around €300 million, has been suspended as the Norwegian firm has run out of funding. Its parent company has been reported in financial difficulties on and off for several months now.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's Azora

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s Azora

Under construction at the same yard, the first of the Ritz Carlton Yatcht Collection vessels looks to have been delayed for her maiden voyage.

The Vigo shipyard reported Tuesday to the CEO of the US company, Douglas Prothero, the breach of the contract, in which he had promised to deliver the ship in November 2019, subsequently delayed to December 5, with a construction cost of €240 million.

The builder has also been reported as demanding an additional €50 million to complete the first Ritz-Carlton ship.

(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)

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