In an unusual move, Society Expeditions announced it will not take delivery of its new ship, the 160-passenger Society Adventurer, a little more than a week before the shlp was to sail its maiden voyage.

Heiko Klein, owner of Discoverer Reederei, parent company to Society Expeditions, said he refused delivery after he failed to reach an agreement with Rauma Yards on "some major technical and contractual problems."

This newsletter has learned that the vessel was to be delivered to Klein on a bareboat charter. The arrangement was said to be contingent on certain financial guarantees based on minimum advance sales of nine million dollars by Abercrombie & Kent International, North American sales agent for Society Expeditions. The maiden voyage was set to leave Portsmouth on July 8.

According to Klein, title of the vessel has been transferred to a subsidiary of the yard and both parties have agreed not to have any claims against each other.

Earlier Discoverer Reederei had decided not to exercise its option on a sister ship to the Society Adventurer. Two ships were planned originally for introduction in 1992 and 1993.

Expedition Ship for Sale

Rauma Yards is now looking for a different buyer for the 8,200-ton expedition-style cruise vessel which is designed for cruises up to eight weeks without taking on fuel or provisions with an operating range more than 8,500 nautical miles. Also environmentally advanced, the Society Adventurer can operate for 25 days without discharge of garbage or sewage. All staterooms are outside. Equipment includes four 50-passenger tenders (lifeboats) and 14 rubber boats each for 15 passengers for excursions.

The Society Adventurer was built to classification by Det norske Veritas, Ice Class 1AC Super, and to meet U.S. Coast Guard and Public Health regulations.

When the Society Adventurer was christened by Mrs. Ursel Klein, wife of Heiko Klein, earlier this year, Klein was quoted in a German shipping publication as saying that he "was very satisfied with the performance and workmanship of Rauma Yards."

"Upon delivery the Society Adventurer will be finest expedition cruise ship in the world; he was quoted as saying.

The signals were there perhaps some time ago when Society Expeditions assigned Abercrombie & Kent. It was a sign that the Society Expeditions was not up to the task of filling its growing fleet. Secondly, it chartered one of its ships to Clipper Cruise Line, thus reducing its capacity.

Since it was acquired by Heiko Klein in 1987, Society Expeditions has also suffered a considerable turnover of personnel.

Expedition Market

The expedition-style cruise market is relatively small but has been growing over the past few years. In 1988 and 1989, there were about 518 berths on expedition-style cruises being marketed in the United States. In the second half of 1990, the supply of berths jumped to 772 with the introduction of the Frontier Spirit and with Special Expeditions marketing two more ships in the United States.

In 1990/91, Ocean Cruise Lines also decided to venture into the expedition market with the 460-passenger Ocean Princess. Moreover, the growing fleet of 110-passenger Renaissance Cruises' vessels also cross over into the expedition-style market niche, as well as Clipper Cruise Line.

Thus, from 1989 to 1991, this market niche jumped from 518 berths to perhaps three times that. It remains to be seen whether the market is that big or can grow to that size so fast. Others who have tried to venture into soft-expeditions, most notably Exploration Cruise Lines, ship-wrecked.