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Monday, 1 April 2013

What Goes at Classic International?


Athena - Ex Valtur Prima, ex Italia Prima, ex Caribe
Athena - Ex Valtur Prima, ex Italia Prima, ex Caribe
Most people know Classic International Cruises as the creation of Lisbon-based expatriate Greek shipowner George Potamianos, who died this May and has since then been succeeded by his twin sons Alexandros and Emilios.

But on the weekend before last, three of Classic International Cruises’ fleet were arrested, the 556-berth Athena (1946) and 568-berth Princess Danae (1955) at Marseilles and the 334-berth Arion (1965) at Kotor, all for unpaid bunker bills and other debts said to include back wages.
Princess Danae
Princess Danae
According to the “Ship & Bunker” web site, the firm has been financed for several years by Portuguese bank Montepio, which has now stated that it will not fund any further operations of and will not to see the company through to the end of this season.
Classic International operates under several names, including Arcalia Shipping, World Cruises Agency and Great Warwick Inc, among others.
Shortly after this news broke, Grant Hunter, managing director of Classic International Cruises’ Australian branch, was quoted as saying: “Athena’s shipowners and the bank are working on a major restructure which is expected to be finalised within 5-7 days. The owners have advised that Athena will operate her full Australian season as planned, beginning on November 12, 2012, in two month’s time. The ship has now entered a scheduled drydocking period in Marseille.”
This statement completely ignores the fact that All Ways Travel of Belgium had a charter on the Athena and had flown passengers in to Marseilles for a cruise that was due to sail last Monday. Once informed that the ship had been arrested, All Ways took immediate steps to fly its clients back home to Belgium.
Recent news reports have also missed the fact that a fourth Classic International ship, the 479-berth Princess Daphne (1955), has continued to operate on schedule for Germany’s Ambiente Kreuzfahrten. Leaving Puerto del Rosario in the early hours of Thursday, September 20, she made her planned call at Arrecife the same day and then left Casablanca on Saturday, September 22, for Malaga, where she was due this morning.
That three ships have been arrested while the fourth continued to sail seemed to indicate that some sort of arrangement had been made as far as the Princess Daphne is concerned. After anchoring off Malaga this morning, the Princess Daphne sailed at 12:46, headed east southeast, and was last seen off Torre del Mar steaming at 14? knots on a course of 100 degrees, her destination Ibiza. So will she finish her present voyage without arrest? The Ambiente web site continues to operate, listing her next cruise as a Black Sea sailing from Istanbul on October 6.
Funchal - Photo D.R.Carneiro
Funchal - Photo D.R.Carneiro
As well as the planned Australian season for the Athena, Ambiente has charters on Athena and Princess Daphne for next summer, but whether any of these cruises go ahead will depend on whether financing is put into place for the ongoing operation of Classic International Cruises.

A fifth fleet member, the 430-berth Funchal (1961), has been in Lisbon for some months now undergoing what is supposed to be a refit to bring her into compliance with the latest SOLAS standards.

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