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Editor in chief: Angelo Scorza
06/08/18 10:21

Mano buys from Cyprus its cruiseship

The Israeli shipowning group has taken over the former Louis Majesty to be renamed Princess Iris

Mano Maritime Group of Israel is the buyer of the Majesty, a cruiseship that Louis Group of Cyprus - engaged in tourism industry focusing in the hotel sector in Cyprus and Greece but also active in the cruise sector through subsidiary, Celestyal Cruises - announced to have sold to an overseas company, without openly disclosing its name.

The 40,876 GT vessel, with a capacity of 1,460 passengers, was ordered originally by Birka Line to become Birka Queen from Wärtsilä Marine Turku Shipyard in Finland, but was finally completed by Kvaerner Masa-Yards (new name of the Finnish shipyard) as Royal Majesty for Majesty Cruise Line in 1992. In 1997 she was sold to Norwegian Cruise Line as Norwegian Majesty and lengthened by 33.76 m at Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, before being sold to Louis Cruises as Louis Majesty in  2008. Until 2012 she was chartered to Thomson Cruises as Thomson Majesty before being returned to Louis Cruises.

Ending last year a charter deal with Marella Cruises (formerly Thomson Cruises), she is currently laid up in Athens and expected to enter service under the new Israeli property after the necessary refurbishment still to be assigned at a shipyard.

In March 2010 a rogue wave caught her violently while sailing off the coast of north-east Spain and caused two casualties; a German and an Italian passengers were left dead.

Mano Cruises – which preferred not to tell the price of the sale – confirmed to Ship2Shore to be the buyer of the Majesty and added that she will be renamed Princess Iris; however her future deployment officially is not finalized yet.

“We are currently examining several charter possibilities mainly in Far East & Japan, since we have strong business activities in other sectors in Japan and so we know well this region. If Princess Iris will be on charter elsewhere, our other ship  Golden Iris will continue its regular operation during season 2019” stated Gil Hashmonay, General Marketing Manager, Mano Maritime Ltd.

Mano Cruise have expertise in the Israeli market, which is a small niche market which requires specialization in special cruise experience for Israeli market, with Kosher facilities, activities in Hebrew and so forth.  “Also our market includes small percentage of tourists who visit Israel and would like to combine their visit with a cruise to Cyprus and Greece. The security of the cruises and risk of wars is one of our main challenges in Israel, which might causes prompt changes of itineraries, sudden changes of home ports, cancellations of cruises, unexpected military actions; for instance in 2014 was reported that parts of missiles fell on deck of German ship. Although this high risks in the trade, it is our expertise to overcome those challenges by strong security and operation management to face such complex scenarios” Mano’s spokeperson added.

The cruise line part of the shipping group run by its founder 63-year Moshe Mano, a mighty businessman active in the maritime, hospitality and real estate industries – Mano Holdings Group includes Mano Maritime Ltd., Mano Holidays Ltd. and Bambook Properties Ltd and is rated among the 100 largest companies in Israel - has currently just one vessel in its fleet, after the Royal Iris was sold to Rosmorport of Russia in 2017.

The 959-passengers Golden Iris was built in 1975 and originally launched as the Cunard Conquest, spending some time with MSC before joining Mano in 2009.

The vessel is currently trading in traditional Israel-Greece-Cyprus cruising trade only during summer; however Hashmonay added that “owners put this beautiful ship in the market for sale and looking for potential buyers. If Princess Iris will be on charter elsewhere, Golden Iris will continue its regular operation during season 2019”.

Aside its marginal cruise activity, Mano Maritime is committed in maritime business both as a shipowner and a shipmanager of cargo vessels and also acts as ship agent for various shipping lines based in Spain, the Ukraine, Greece, Germany and Russia.

Moshe Mano has been an honorary consul of the Russian Federation since 1995. His father, Mordechai had emigrated from Thessaloniki, Greece along with other Greek workers who contributed to the construction of the Port of Haifa, and raised a family in Israel; he is considered a  pioneer in the maritime transportation field, having founded Mano Maritime enterprises in 1945.

When he died in 1969, Moshe promised to carry on his father’s vision and at 30 founded Mano Maritime.

Moshe Mano is married to Iris, responsible for Mano Group’s Tourism division; elder son Moran works in the family’s maritime business, younger son Liran is in real estate and hospitality divisions.

Angelo Scorza