Cunard Line and Crown Cruise Line are forming a long-term joint venture called Cunard Crown. Cunard will take over the marketing, sales, and reservations for the three Crown Cruise Line vessels, the 560-passenger Crown Monarch, the 820-passenger Crown Jewel and the 820-passenger Crown Dynasty to be delivered this summer, whlch will sail under the Cunard Crown name.
In addition, the Cunard Countess and the Cunard Princess will also sail under the Cunard Crown name.
Present itineraries and rates for Crown will remain in effect through October 1, but new fall and winter deployment and rates are expected to be announced shortly. Sources said that Cunard will operate the Crown Cunard vessels worldwide and also transfer Caribbean sailings from Palm Beach to Port Everglades.
EffJohn's Commodore Cruise Line may also soon be gone. While the Enchanted Seas will continue to operate Caribbean itieranes from New Orleans, at least for the time being, the Enchanted Isle will discontinue North American cruise operations this summer, according to Henrik Osterberg, Executive Vice President of EffJohn. The Enchanted Isle, which is presently sailing Mexican Riviera itineraries from San Diego, will be repositioned to the Baltic where she will be used as a hotel in St. Petersburg's harbor. Osterberg cited lagging West Coast sales as the primary reason for the move. He also stated that since the Caribe I is being returned to her owner this spring, Commodore will cut personnel in its Coral Gables office, but will retain top management.
According to Ron Santangelo, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Cunard, the Crown Monarch and Crown Jewel will be marketed by Crown until April 1, 1993. Within the next month, Cunard will announce new itineraries and tariffs for the ships, to be effective after October, 1993. Joeseph Smyth, Executive Vice President, Operations, for Cunard, alluded that the new itineraries would be worldwide and not concentrated in the Caribbean.
"There's only so much room in the Caribbean. Soon it's going to be a parking lot," Smyth said.
It is speculated that one of the new Crown ships may be positioned in Singapore.
According to Osterberg, the move allows EffJohn to concentrate more of its efforts on its large Baltic ferry fleet.
The joint venture also solidifies Cunard's position in the luxury and premium market. According to Santangelo, the five Cunard Crown ships will complement Cunard's five luxury vessels, as well as the three EuropAmerica river vessels. Smyth also said that while Cunard still owns three hotels, he expects that all will be sold shortly in order to focus solely on the cruise industry.
"It's easier for us to expand together than individually," Smyth said. In addition, the Crown vessels will now attract a larger foreign passenger mix due to Cunard's strong international marketing networks.
One of the effects of the withdrawal of the Enchanted Isle and the Caribe I, is the continued shrinking of the budget market.
The joint venture between Cunard and Crown is supposed to be a 10 year agreement and Effjohn will be paying Cunard an undisclosed management fee plus commission based on earnings.
Sources said they expected Cunard and Effjohn to give the deal at least a year to see how it works before moving ahead. If successful, it is expected that Cunard will acquire the Crown vessels.
For now, the deal increases Cunard's number of berths by 40 percent to 7,000. The new ships will be repainted including the red Cunard funnel.