While at least six new Renaissance Cruises ships are awaiting their destiny in Gibraltar and England, the financial entanglements are being cleared up that pave the way for their sale. But to whom?
They are too many and perhaps too big to fit into the North American luxury market. (The space ratio of the R ships is 43.8 tons per passenger compared to 49 tons for the Seabourn Pride, 52 tons for the Crystal Harmony, 63 tons for the Silversea Shadow and 63.9 tons for the Seven Seas Mariner.) Experts contend these ships are not designed for the luxury market, instead they can be described as "super premium." But they are also too many and not big enough to fit profitably into the premium North American market. And they are too luxurious and too small to fit profitably into the North American contemporary market. Besides, who would gamble a billion dollars under the prevailing market conditions?
A more interesting solution may be found in Europe - in a partnership for instance between one or several major tour operators and a ship manager. There the ships could return - one for each country - marketed as the French Renaissance, the Italian Renaissance, etc., targeting a relatively untapped European premium market.
Further down the road may even be a Brazilian Renaissance, etc.
The R ships do feature multiple dining options, comfortable cabins and outside balcony cabins. And, the passenger feedback always seemed very positive.
P&O Princess Cruises may have the resources to take this on but is probably too busy with Seetours in Germany. Other candidates would include V. Ships which already has relationships with a variety of tour operators throughout Europe and elsewhere. And, a European operation would not conflict with the company's interests in Radisson Seven Seas Cruises.
Other interested parties may include the new partnership between Costa Crociere and Attica Enterprises called Costa Attica Cruises. Attica is run by Pericles Panagopulos who previously was involved with the now defunct premium cruise line Royal Cruise Line.
Costa Attica Cruises may see a niche for R-sized ships in the Eastern Mediterranean where they could be positioned at the premium level. But this has been a seasonal market and may also not be able to absorb six ships.
If these interesting and brave scenarios do not play out, the fleet will most likely be broken up and chartered out. (Editor)