The boss of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said its shipbuilding programme has been put on hold amid high prices for slots in yards across the world.
Chairman Fred Olsen Jnr revealed in 2018 that the line was looking to place an order for a 600-passenger ship to expand to its existing four-ship fleet.
Olsen Jnr, pictured, said it was “not all doom and gloom” as the line had refurbished ships Braemar, Balmoral and Black Watch last year and plans to revamp Boudicca this autumn.
“We had a serious look last year at a small ship,” he said. “We are staying calm for the moment. We do have a shipbuilding programme, but the prices are high in the shipyards.”
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines targets ‘exploration’ cruise growth
Managing director Peter Deer, who took over from Mike Rodwell last year, said it was his job to put the concept together and persuade Olsen Jnr and his family to invest in a new vessel.
However, he added: “We know that the moment is not right today. We are getting better with creativity but it will take some time before we get there with that. Bear with us, we are going in the right direction.”
Meanwhile, Braemar was prevented from docking in La Romana in the Dominican Republic last week due to “a small number of influenza-like cases on board”.
Olsen Jnr admitted that the line was working hard to provide reassurance to customers over the spread of coronavirus during these “troubling times”.
“We’re trying to provide reassurance so that they do not get scared,” Olsen Jnr said. “We just need to reassure the public and tell them to go and enjoy their holiday.”
The line has launched a new “booking reassurance guarantee”, allowing passengers to cancel their cruise for free and change to another sailing in the same year.
The deal applies to new bookings made from March 4 until May 5.
“It is important that we work together so people continue to travel,” Deer added. “Risk is everywhere…let’s carrying on cruising.”
UPDATE- MSC Cruise Statment
STATEMENT REGARDING MSC OPERA
UPDATE: 04 MARCH 2020
Health Authorities in Austria today informed us that a passenger of Austrian nationality, who had cruised with us on MSC Opera in the East Mediterranean from 17 to 28 February, tested positive yesterday, 3 March, for COVID-19. This passenger returned directly to Austria through northern Italy on 28 February immediately after disembarking from his cruise in Genoa, Italy.
MSC Opera earlier today arrived in Piraeus, Greece, and we promptly informed the Greek Health Authorities about this reported case and asked for their guidelines. We requested at the same time that passengers, as a precautionary measure, remained on board while awaiting guidance from the local authorities.
We shared with the local health authorities the ship’s full medical records as well as the medical and travel history records of the former Austrian passenger.
The Greek health authorities gave MSC Opera permission around 13:00 CET to sail from Piraeus, Greece, and continue its journey to its next scheduled port in Corfu, Greece. No additional health measures were required to be taken and the ship is currently sailing as planned.
There are no passengers or crew members currently on board the ship who have reported any flu-like symptoms.
The health and safety of our passengers and crew will always remain our top priority.