Pullmantur Fleet Will Likely Be Scrapped

Monarch

The end may be nearing for the Monarch, Sovereign and Horizon as the trio of former Pullmantur ships could be heading for dismantling in Turkey, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Pullmantur filed for reorganization under Spanish insolvency laws in June, with Royal Caribbean Cruises essentially taking the ships back from the Spanish brand at the same time, and telling Cruise Industry News the vessels were being transitioned to cold lay-up.

Crew members aboard the fleet said important items of value have been removed from the vessels, which will now end up in Aliaga, Turkey, a coastal town known for its ship-scrapping business.

A request for further information sent to Royal Caribbean Cruises went unanswered.

The Pullmantur Fleet:

Horizon

Horizon
Built: 1990
Capacity: 1,828
Notes: Launched as the Celebrity Horizon. Has also spent time under the Island Cruises and CDF umbrellas.


Monarch

Monarch
Built: 1991
Capacity: 2,850
Notes: Launched as the Monarch of the Seas for Royal Caribbean International in 1988; moved to Pullmantur in 2013.


Sovereign

Sovereign
Built: 1988
Capacity: 2,850
Notes: Launched as the Sovereign of the Sea for Royal Caribbean International in 1988, becoming the largest cruise ship in the world at the time. Transferred to Pullmantur in 2008.

Cruise1st attracts potential buyers as owner Royal Caribbean puts agency up for sale

Royal Caribbean-owned cruise agency Cruise1st has been put up for sale and is understood to have attracted at least three potential trade buyers.

It is known that at least one of the cruise specialist agencies interested in buying the business has submitted an offer for Cruise1st, which is a trading division of Sunshine Cruise Holidays and employs more than 100 staff in the UK, Australia and Singapore.

In a statement, Manchester-based Cruise1st said it was “exploring the possibility” of an external sale and also strongly considering a management buyout.

Royal Caribbean declined to comment.

A source told Travel Weekly that a deal could be struck within the next couple of weeks.

Dan Townsley, chief executive of Cruise1st, said he was eager to weigh up options for the business, adding: “We’re in a position to explore our options and make the right choice for the business that will support our ambitious growth plans.”

The agency launched in 2000 and was acquired by Island Cruises three years later. Following the merger of First Choice and Tui UK, Cruise1st became wholly owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises in 2008.

In the past four years the agency’s booking numbers are claimed to have grown by 83%, and Townsley said the business had “aggressive expansion plans”.

The cruise sector has witnessed several acquisitions in recent years, including Iglu Cruise’s purchase of Planet Cruise in 2013 and dnata taking a stake in Imagine Cruising last month.

Private equity firms have also shown interest in cruise businesses, with both Cruise.co.uk and Iglu Cruise receiving backing.

The latter received further investment last week in a deal, believed to be worth £60 million, with private equity backer LDC. This prompted Iglu founder Richard Downs to say he was looking at acquisitions.

Gaining perspective with a look back at RCCL, Carnival Corp.

Gaining perspective with a look back at RCCL, Carnival Corp.

By Tom Stieghorst
*InsightLooking back 10 years at the two biggest cruise companies is one way to gauge how far the industry has progressed and gain some perspective on the problems of the day.

In 2003, the problems included terrorism, war, flu and the SARS respiratory virus. “A perfect storm,” Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Chairman Richard Fain called it in his annual letter to shareholders that year.

On the shipbuilding front, RCCL made its first new order in 3½ years, for an “Ultra Voyager” class ship that would evolve into the Freedom of the Seas. The letter mentioned short cruises from Los Angeles had been restored, and a brand-new terminal in New Jersey called Cape Liberty was inaugurated.*TomStieghorst

Celebrity Cruises had launched a marketing campaign with the theme of ordinary people being treated like celebrities, the Serenade and Mariner of the Seas were added to the fleet and RCCL’s joint venture with First Choice Holidays, Island Cruises, had just turned profitable.

RCCL was hoping to regain the investment ratings on its debt that it had lost after the 9/11 terror attacks.

Flash-forward to 2013. Terrorism, war, flu and SARS, while not vanquished, were not hot-button issues. In his letter to shareholders, Fain says RCCL ordered no new ships for 2017 to keep capacity growth modest.

Royal isn’t sailing from Los Angeles anymore, but its Cape Liberty terminal in New York Harbor is more important than ever. Royal built six ships after Serenade and Mariner, with a seventh, Quantum of the Seas, due in November.

RCCL’s stake in Island Cruises was sold to Germany’s TUI, which is a 50-50 partner with RCCL in TUI Cruises. And the company is still trying to earn back its investment grade rating.

For Carnival Corp., 2003 was the year it finalized its landmark merger with P&O Princess Cruises. It was preparing to take delivery of seven ships in a nine-month stretch, including Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2.

“I have never, in my 35 years in this business, been more excited and enthusiastic about the future of our company,” Carnival Corp. Chairman and CEO Micky Arison wrote.

Ten years later, the mood is less ebullient. Arison’s letter in the annual report is a bit retrospective; it notes his retirement as CEO of the company he has steered for three decades and salutes Carnival veterans Howard Frank and Pier Luigi Foschi, who also stepped down from executive roles in 2013, leaving the company’s day-to-day direction in the hands of a relative newcomer, Arnold Donald.

Arison’s letter says Donald brought “a fresh perspective and a new energy to our company. … His skills are ideally suited to lead the next stage of Carnival Corp. and PLC.”