Barely two months after the U.K.-based First Choice Holidays agreed to purchase Evtrav, operator of Clipper Cruises Line, for $65 million, two of the four Clipper vessels, the Yorktown Clipper and the Nantucket Clipper, were divested to Cruses West - but Clipper said the strategy isn't to downsize.
"First Choice was interested in Intrav and Clipper because of the upscale, expedition-style nature of the company and the cruises," said Doug Walbert, 'vice president of product development for Clipper. "Two of our ships, the Yorktown and Nantucket, didn't fit that mix, so those were the two ships that we sold to Cruise West. So, the concept wasn't to downsize but to meet the requirements of the new owners of the company."
Walbert also noted that the two U.S.-flagged vessels sailed exclusively in domestic waters, while First Choice wants Clipper to exclusively sail internationally. "So our lineup now includes our two international vessels, the Clipper Adventurer and the Clipper Odyssey, which are more deluxe than the two we sold to Cruise West."
Walbert said the two remaining Clipper ships will fit well with First Choice's "Activity Adventure" division, which has several other North American brands, including Grand Expeditions and Peregrine Adventure.
"We did go from four ships to two, but First Choice has so many other brands that operating as a First Choice company also gives us opportunities for cross marketing and cross selling, as well as standardization of operating procedures," he said. "We're just part of a new group of sister companies.