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Friday, 1 August 2014

More Northwest Passage News – Other Cruise News: Prestige Cruise Holdings’ Vancouver-Montreal Cruises – Titanic II An Unlikely Prospect

by Kevin Griffin
Last week Crystal Cruises surprised the market with news that it would sail its 68,870-ton Crystal Serenity through the Northwest Passage from Seward to New York in 2016. This week, we bring you a reminder that the World of Residensea’s 43,524-ton residential ship The World has already done this, having transitted from Nome to Nuuk in 2012 without the publicity a cruise ship generates. And speaking of passages from west to east, two Prestige Cruise Holdings ships, the 30,277-ton Regatta and 28,803-ton Seven Seas Navigator, will be cruising from Vancouver to Montreal this autumn via Alaska and the Panama Canal. And finally, as Clive Palmer’s companies run into more legal problems in Australia, completion of his Titanic II becomes an even less likely prospect.
More Northwest Passage News
Last week we brought the news that Crystal Cruises was planning to send its 1,090-berth Crystal Serenity through the Northwest Passage from Seward to New York in 2016.
Le Soleal - Compagnie du Ponant
Le Soleal – Compagnie du Ponant

At the time we said that Canada’s Northwest Passage had seen many new operators come into play in recent years, but until 2013 with small ships of below 10,000 tons.
The largest cruise ship to have done this so far was Compagnie du Ponant’s 10,944-ton Le Soléal in 2013.
However, Christopher Wright of Mariport Group in Canada brought to our attention the fact that the 165-residence condominium ship The World had already done the passage in 2012, with about 200 passengers plus her crew of 260.
So here is a revised list of the largest ships to have transitted the Northwest Passage, or which are planning to do so:

The World, which bills itself as “the largest privately owned residential yacht on earth,” stopped at either end of the Northwest Passage, in Cambridge Bay August 30 and in Pond Inlet on September 5.
The World at Cambridge Bay (Photo courtesy of Nunatsiaq Online)
The World at Cambridge Bay (Photo courtesy of Nunatsiaq Online)

As we said last week, while the first commercial cargo ship did not transit the Northwest Passage until 2013, passenger ships have been doing it for thirty years now. Of these, The World is definitely the largest to date.
Meanwhile, from the other end of the world, Gerd Wilmer of Landmark Travel, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ agent in Australia, reminded us that Hapag-Lloyd’s Bremen and Hanseatic are classed German Ice Class E4, which equates to Ice Class 1A Super rather than just 1A as we indicated last week.
Prestige Cruise Holdings’ Vancouver-Montreal Cruises
This autumn sees two cruise lines owned by Prestige Cruise Holdings offering interesting extended cruises from Vancouver to Montreal by way of Alaska and the Panama Canal.
Oceania Cruises’ 684-berth Regatta leaves Vancouver on August 19 for a 39-night cruise that takes her to Ketchikan, Juneau, Sitka, Victoria, Astoria, San Francisco, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, Huatulco, Chiapas, Puntarenas, Cartagena, Norfolk, New York, Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney, Corner Brook, Quebec and Montreal, where she arrives on September 27.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Seven Seas Navigator
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Seven Seas Navigator

A couple of weeks later, Regent’s all-inclusive 490-berth Seven Seas Navigator leaves Vancouver, on September 1 in her case, for a shorter 31-night cruise that takes her to Ketchikan, Skagway, Juneau, Sitka, Victoria, Astoria, San Francisco, Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Huatulco, Chiapas, Puntarenas, Cartagena, Grand Cayman, Fort Lauderdale, Port Canaveral, Norfolk and New York, Newport, Boston, Bar Harbor, Saint John, Halifax, Sydney, Saguenay, Quebec and Montreal, where she arrives on October 2.
The similarities in port calls stem from the fact that the two lines share a common itinerary design group.
Both ships will again be offering similar cruises in 2015, so guests are able to plan well in advance.
Titanic II An Unlikely Prospect
In April 2012, a century after the loss of the 46,328-ton Titanic on April 15, 1912, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer announced that he would be building a replica of that long-lamented ship, which had hit an iceberg at speed and sank in the course of her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
Last week came news from Australia that Citic Pacific and Sino Iron, Palmer’s partners in two iron ore mining projects near Cape Preston, Western Australia, were suing him in Queensland Supreme Court for what they allege is wrongful use of Citic funds.

This comes after Palmer’s May victory in the West Australian Supreme Court that saw him win a claim for about $400 million in royalties from Citic.
Citic Pacific have now accused Palmer of paying cheque 2046, for $10 million on the Cape Preston port administrative account at National Australia Bank, to Cosmo Development Pty Ltd, and cheque 2073 for $2.167 million to Media Circus Network Pty Ltd, neither of which companies have anything to do with the running of the associated port at Port Palmer.
Palmer denies illegal use of the funds, claiming that he had the right to use them for whatever use he wanted as they were paid in return for service provided by his subsidiary Queensland Nickel at Townsville. Palmer had purchased Queensland Nickel in 2009. It had been agreed however that the account itself could only be used for “the day-to-day expenses of operating, maintaining and repairing” the port.
The $10 million cheque was paid on August 8 and the smaller one on September 2, just before the last Australian election, when Palmer formed the Palmer United Party, himself won a seat as a member of parliament and three of his followers won seats in the Australian senate.
All this brings to mind the Australian billionaire Sir Alan Bond, who won the America’s Cup for Australia back in 1983, the first time in 132 years it had been won by anyone other than the New York Yacht Club. Bond had also been an owner of Queensland Nickel. At his peak, he paid $53.9 million for the Van Gogh painting “Sunflowers.” In 1992, Bond’s empire collapsed and he ended up spending four years in jail for the wrongful use of an astonishing $1.2 billion of funds that were siphoned of from 53%-owned Bell Resources into Bond Corporation before the latter went bankrupt.
Although Palmer’s Blue Star Line signed a memorandum of understanding with CSC Jinling in May 2012 to build the Titanic II in Nanjing, no order has ever been placed. Two months later, however, in July 2012, Palmer’s Asia Pacific Shipping Enterprises contracted with CSC Jinling for four 64,000-ton bulk carriers to carry nickel ore from New Caledonia, Indonesia and the Philippines to Queensland Nickel’s refinery in Townsville.
All four ships were for delivery this year.
In May, Blue Star Line announced that delivery of the Titanic II would be delayed from 2016 to 2018. The company was forced to use the name Blue Star, as Cunard still owns the right to use and does use the White Star Line name. White Star was the operator of the original Titanic.

While some money has been spent o this project and Deltamarin has been paid to come up with a concept for the 21st century, present events make it seem less likely that this unlikely project in the first place will ever be completed.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)

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