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01/02/16 11:44

Luxury cruises: a new player, eventually branded 'Ritz’, was founded

A pool helmed by Lars Clasen (ex-AIDA Cruises) had allegedly commissioned a newbuilding to Barreras Shipyard in Spain

Barreras shipyard ship launching FB

A soaring number of entrepreneurs interested in the cruise business are currently betting on the luxury cruise niche, a rather appealing segment fostered by a high performance and maybe lower access barriers due to the deployment of smaller units or even large converted yachts.

For example, Scenic, Australian company specialized in river cruises, has recently entered the ocean-cruise business placing an order to Croatian Uljanik yard while also focusing on a further initiative conceived by the notable veteran Lars Clasen, historical Manager at AIDA Cruises and shipowner of A-Rosa, company specialized in river cruises.

According to market sources, Clasen, heading a group of investors, has recently established Dolce Cruise Management Ltd, registered in Malta, which ordered Spanish Barreras yard a new luxury yacht with 170 metres in length, 130 cabins and 260 lower beds capacity.

The new order, worth 180 million euro, commissioned to a manufacturer that currently only focused  their business on ferries, offshore means and fishing boats would be targeting the launching of a new brand, immediately recalling the luxury niche: Ritz Carlton Yacht Club.

Majority shares of the newco are controlled by a private equity fund, however the company is also participated by Mariott-Ritz Carlton hotel company and by Dolce Cruise Management (20%), therefore, on the basis of a contractual agreement with the hotel corporation which in turn would be granted the related royalties, the Ritz Carlton renowned brand might be opted for.

Meanwhile, Barreras' skills to accomplish such a complicated project, decidedly not related to the their usual business, still has to be assessed: other unskilled yards that previously attempted to enter the cruise business hadn't actually found no obstacles.

We may recall all problems encountered by Mitsubishi in the construction of two AIDA's units: delivery of the first newbuilding suffered huge delays, last of which caused by a serious fire on board which prevented completing the construction by last December.

For the time being the new deadline was fixed on April 2016 (when the AIDA Prima's maiden voyage was schedules), nevertheless, according to Japanese press reports, mentioned by Tradewinds, last years' problems might have also affected the construction of sister unit AIDA Perla that might be delayed at least 6 months on the original deadline.

Francesco Bottino

TAG : Cruises
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