The announcement by First Choice Expeditions, parent company of Intrav, to sell the Clipper Odyssey and the Clipper Adventurer to International Shipping Partners (ISP) last week is a move designed to help Intrav focus more on being a tour operator - operating tours worldwide - which include luxury river voyages, and land and safari journeys, Intrav President Randy Durband told Cruise Industry News.

Durband added that "it is better to charter and lease than to own and operate. I don't want to be tied down to being a shipowner," he said.

Intrav will operate its scheduled Clipper Adventurer cruises through Feb. 2008, and will charter the vessel for Antarctica expeditions for the next five years. Intrav will operate its Clipper Odyssey sailings through September 2007.

Since the 1995 merger of Intrav and Clipper Cruise Line, the two companies have operated together as if they were a single entity. Now, with the sale of the Clipper ships, (they) will diverge, according to a press release issued by Intrav.

ISP Plans

ISP President and CEO Niels-Erik Lund said that his company's plans for the two Clipper ships include chartering them out.

"We aren't a cruise company, and we have no desire to become one," he said.

The Clipper Odyssey will be on a five-year charter to Zegrabm Expeditions in Seattle, starting in April 2008.

And the Clipper Adventurer will be chartered back to First Choice until April 2008 (where she will spend the next five winters), after which she will be on charter to Noble Caledonia in the U.K. for the summer.

Lund said that it is still undecided as to where the Adventurer will spend the summers of 2009 through 2012.

According to Lund, there are no plans to refurbish the Clipper ships, although he noted that the Clipper Adventurer is currently in drydock until May 24 for "some minor tweaking."

The reason for the purchase of the 120-passenger ships, Lund said, is due to his "belief in the small-ship market."

"We have several ships already," he pointed out, "which are all expedition-type ships - around 100 to 130 passengers - and we'd like to expand that market even more." Lund added that he would consider going larger in terms of passenger capacity, insisting he is "looking at all the possibilities," but would not go beyond the 500-passenger mark.