Club Med has cancelled the initial Caribbean season of the 410-passenger Club Med I next winter because of "anticipated" construction delays at the Chantiers du Havre shipyard in France.
The $100 million vessel, which was originally slated to start its weekly cruises from Guadeloupe by next January, is now aiming to begin operations with a series of seven-day roundtrip Saturday departures from the French Riviera port of Villefranche in the spring of 1990.
Club Med officials in New York said last week that the new "tentative" Mediterranean itinerary will include calls at St. Tropez and Porquerolles in France, either Ajaccio or Portiocio in Corsica, Porto Cerva in Sardinia, and Ile d'Elbe and La Spezia in Italy.
Although a Club Med spokesman said that the initial pricing structure for the 1990 Mediterranean season hasn't been finalized yet, he noted that cruise-only prices should be very similar to the average three-season, per person weekly rates of $1,250, $1,500 and $1,750 that Club Med had initially set for the Caribbean next winter.
The spokesman said that Club Med now expects to begin its Caribbean sailings in September 1990 with Saturday departures from Guadeloupe that call at English Harbor in Antigua, Phillipsburg in St. Maarten, The Baths in Virgin Gorda, Old San Juan, Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas, and Gustavia in St. Barthelemy.
Jean-Luc Oizan-Chapon, President and Chief Executive Officer for Club Med in North America, merely said that officials at the Societe Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre shipyard told him that they "anticipate" construction delays on the vessel. Oizan-Chapon said that the expected delays reflect the need for more construction time than was initially anticipated and refused to tie the delay to any specific factor.
Olizan-Chapon said that the resort company's entire outside sales force of 18 district sales managers will sell both resort packages and cruises and that Club Med's direct sales consistently average between 15 and 18 percent of total sales.
"We are already working to create an impression in the travel agents' minds that they will be selling a typical Club Med product and that the only differences will be that the Club Med I will be a little more 'upscale' product and will be a cruise," Oizan-Chapon said. "Our total promotional budget for 1989 will be $15 million and we expect about 10 percent of that amount to be for the Club Med I."
Oizan-Chapon said that all cruise passengers will have to pay $30 each for a one-time, initial Club Med membership fee and will also have to pay either $50 a year dues for adults or $25 a year for children. He added that there will be no special discount programs for previous Club Med members and said that Club Med expected to develop an air add-on program from about 150 North American gateways.
"We will promote heavily to our base of 300,000 past Club Med clients and our target market will be between the ages of 24 and 49 and will have basically the same $50,000 annual household income that our villages have," Oizan-Chapon said.
Oizan-Chapon also said that Club Med expects to develop a series of 10- and 14-day air/land/sea packages in the Mediterranean in 1990 that would include a land stay at the new Club Med village of Opion and a three-day hotel stay in Paris. He noted that the newest Club Med village of Opio is scheduled to open on the French Riviera this June some 20 miles from the vessel's summer homeport of Villefranche.
"The 10,000-ton, six-mast, 610-foot-long vessel will include standard cabins that measure 188 square feet and three, 321-square-foot suites," Olizan-Chapon said, "and all cabins will include a television, telephone and a refrigerator."
Oizan-Chapon also said that the vessel will maintain Club Med's traditional informal dining pattern with three restaurants that will have open seating and mostly buffet-style dining. He noted that the main restaurant will seat 214-passengers, a second will seat 90 and a third, 54-seat restaurant will include a glass-enclosed terrace and said he wasn't sure if the ship would include a midnight buffet.
Oizan-Chapon also said that the entertainment on-board will be traditional Club Med village style and will only include a few professional entertainers and spontaneous performances from several of the 84 G.O.s (or hotel staff). He added that Club Med expected to emphasize the amateur enthusiam of its young hotel staff and would probably only have "a band or two" on sporadic sailings.