NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
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More Cruise Ships Get Ready for Post-Epidemic Resumption of Service
By Sea and Coast | 24/02/2023
Two ships auctioned off by Carnival Corporation are getting ready to start sailing again as the cruise industry gets ready for what most experts predict will be its first year again at levels comparable to 2019 before the pandemic. While some of the 24 vessels sold by Carnival were sold for scrap, the majority were ready to be put back into operation. In Greece and China, two of the vessels have discovered new owners, and it is anticipated that they'll soon enter operation again.
Niche Greek inter-island ferry operator SeaJets' purchase of one of the ships by the Greek island cruise line Celestyal Cruises was announced today. SeaJets was a company owned by Marios Iliopoulos. The cruise ship that Celestyal acquired was constructed by Fincantieri and debuted in 1994 for Holland America Line as the Ryndam. It was the fourth vessel in a new class that Carnival had ordered following the purchase of Holland America. The 55,800 gross tonnage cruise ship was used by Holland America until 2015, at which point it was given to P&O Cruises Australia, a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, and rebuilt from scratch as the Pacific Aria. In 2020, the ship was supplied to SeaJets and is now moored in Greece under the name Aegean Goddess.
The acquisition was announced by Chris Theophilides, CEO of Celestyal. "While the global events of the previous few years have put our growth plans on hold, the positive expectations along with potent bookings for the coming season provides Celestyal with the possibility to recommence the process of reinstating our fleet with new vessels," he said. He said that the company, which presently runs two smaller, vintage cruise ships, would see a considerable rise in deluxe and balcony cabins as a result of the arrival of the ship.
The ship would receive a $21 million restoration and technical maintenance overhaul, according to the cruise company, after which it would be renamed the Celestyal Journey. The ship's return to duty has not been given a specific date.
It is Celeystal's second attempt to grow by acquiring ships sold off throughout the pandemic. The business bought the erstwhile Costa NeoRomantica in 2020 and rebranded her Celeystal Experience (53,000 gross tonnage constructed in 1993), but she remained stranded in Greece and never entered operation. A few months later, the cruise line did sell the ship for trash due to the pandemic's financial impact.
Late January 2021, the parent company of Celeystal, the Cyprus-based Louis group, announced that it had concluded a strategic deal with funds managed by private investment firm Searchlight Capital Partners to recapitalize the cruise line. Observers in the industry predicted that the cruise line would aim to update its fleet once the refinancing was over.
The previous Sea Princess (77,500 gross tonnes), which was built by Fincantieri and debuted by Princess Cruises in 1998, is another ship that Carnival Corporation retired, and she is getting ready to go back into service. Carnival Company sold the ship to Chinese purchasers in 2020. Sanya International Cruise Development bought the ship and gave her the new name Charming, although she was never put back into operation and was apparently just sold.
She was renamed Dream and docked at the Zhoushan Xinya Shipbuilding Company's shipyard on February 12 to start a two-month long refit and maintenance project. According to reports, a recently established cruise company in Tianjin, China, purchased the ship. Although no information has been released regarding her return to operations, it is assumed that the new owner is preparing the ship for operation as soon as China lifts its COVID-19-related travel restrictions. It's anticipated that the Chinese cruise sector will start up again later this year.