Club Med has scheduled start-up cruise operations with its new 450-passenger sailing cruise ship, Club Med I, February 4, 1990, from Pointe-a Pitre, Guadeloupe.
The $100 million vessel will be sailing in the Caribbean during the winter seasons, homeporting in Guadeloupe, and calling at Antigua, St. Maarten, Virgin Gorda, San Juan, St. Thomas, and St. Barts.
According to Executive Vice President of Marketing, Bob Schu, the ship will not be a "floating Club Med," but instead a cruise product separate and distinguished from the company's traditional vacation product and "quite plush, comparable to quality cruise ships."
The Club Med I will be marketed in the U.S. and a comprehensive marketing plan was in its final approval stage as CIN went to press. Schu said that a brochure will be released within the next couple of weeks, before the company embarks on travel agency presentations. Crew and staff will speak English and French.
Schu also said that Club Med is negotiating to improve airlift from the U.S. to Guadeloupe, but would not comment further.
The Club Med I, which will be a 610-foot, five-masted sailing ship, is presently under construction at Societe Nouvelle des Ateliers et Chantiers du Havre in Le Havre. "She is the dream of Jean-Marc Poylo, owner of Maritime Services and Transports, and Gilbert Trigano, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Club Med," said a spokesperson for Club Med in New York.
The vessel will have seven decks, featuring Burmese teak, and will carry 442 passengers and a staff of 67 "Gentle Organizers" and 80 service personnel four casino personnel and a maritime crew of 29.
There will be 201 staterooms, measuring approximately 188 square feet, and two suites of 321 square feet each. The staterooms will feature private baths, television, radio, video and stereo equipment, telephone and refrigerator.
The ship will have two restaurants, each with individual decor; three cocktail lounges; two swimming pools; boutiques; fitness and health center; meeting room; beauty salon; and a casino.
Equipment for watersports will be carried aboard and a stern platform will provide access to the water.
Schu projected that passengers would be in the 25 to 45 age group and have annual incomes of $50,000 and more.
Marine and Transports will handle the marine operations of the vessel while Club Med will be responsible for hotel operations and marketing and sales.
A prepared statement boasted that the ship will be propelled by electric engines to avoid noise and vibration in addition to diesel generators for electricity.
Computer controlled sails promise that even in the roughest seas, the Club Med I will only heel two degrees and be able to cruise at a speed of 13.5 knots.
The ship's promised introduction has been delayed at least twice and the latest previous announcement was that the Club Med I would set sail by January. Industry sources were also surprised that Club Med had not yet begun to market the ship. A spokesperson was quoted in the travel trade press last February as saying that promotional things would kick off that month, without elaborating, but nothing seemed to happen.
Sources also said that announcements made in the United States indicate that the executives working with the ship were unfamiliar with the cruise market.
In contrast to other recent start-up ventures, Club Med has not yet raided other cruise lines' executive staffs or regional sales staffs.
Cruise rates have been set ranging from $1,150 to $2,450 for seven days. Air is additional. Club Med, however, was unable to provide a date for when it would be able to accept bookings.
Club Med I is a joint venture between Service and Transports, a French shipping company, and Club Med. So far the partnership has committed to one ship and has not indicated whether they will build any more.