Royal Caribbean International (RCI) finally confirmed that joint-venture negotiations did occur with American Classic Voyages (AMCV) - but according to RCI President Jack Williams, those plans are now off, with a spokesperson asserting that this is no mere hiatus in discussions, but a definitive end to talks.
Thus, if AMCV is going to find a joint-venture partner for its Hawaii project, it must presumably look elsewhere in the travel sector (hotel as well as cruise companies are reportedly being considered), or go it alone. American Hawaii Cruises President Scott Young had previously asserted that the company would announce which ship it would reflag for summer 1999 Hawaiian service by now, but no announcement had yet been made at press time.
When asked about RCI's statement that it was no longer interested in a deal, AMCV's ever-close-lipped president Phil Calian did not dispute the assertion, stating only that this "has not changed our plans at all." While AMCV confirmed it is exploring financial options with Chase Securities and Goldman Sachs & Co., Calian would not discuss any ongoing negotiations AMCV is currently holding with potential joint-venture partners.
However, on the subject of the interim ship, he did concede, "It does take six to 12 months of pre marketing before a ship can enter a trade, and we still plan to reflag a ship for service in the second half of 1999" - thus there is some pressure to finalize an agreement for the interim ship. Calian claimed that "there are a number of vessels out there that meet our criteria; right now we're in the process of deciding how to best go about procuring one." When asked how soon AMCV expects to announce the purchase or charter of a ship for reflagging in Hawaii, Calian responded, "I'm not in the time-predicting business."