The Port of San Diego will give permission to four cruise lines to operate day-cruises to Mexico, although none will be prepared to operate before 1990. Europa Cruise Line, Maritime Resorts International, Pacific Avalon Marine, Inc. and Sea Resorts each plan to bring back the one-day cruise product to San Diego, but only 18 month-old Europa has any cruise experience, causing San Diego cruise and port officials to enter cautiously into all agreements. At presstime, Maritime Resorts was still scrambling to secure financing for the project, both Pacific Avalon and Sea Resorts were still in the planning stages, and Peter Booth, President of Europa said that although they have met in-depth with port officials, there were "no facts to offer at this time."
$8 to 10 Million Per Ship
The Port of San Diego has been without a day cruise operation since 1985 when Crown Cruise Line repositioned the 700-passenger Viking Princess to Palm Beach.
Industry sources speculated that a new day operation could bring in approximately $8 - $10 million, annually. Yet Don Harrison, president of the San Diego Cruise Consortium, allowed that although there is enough berthing and office space, it was unlikely that all four lines could successfully operate there. Harrison said that San Diego's 2 million-plus population of potential day-cruise passengers would not be enough to fill four separate cruise ships on a daily basis. However, sources at the port disagreed, speculating that each ship would be offering a different product, and could more than adequately sustain four such operations.
San Diego-based Sea Resorts, a four-partner consortium, plans to begin operations daily to Ensenada, Mexico next April with an 1,100-passenger ship. Rick Jorgenson, President and General Manager, admitted that although none of the partners possess actual cruise industry experience, Nils-Erik Lund, Director of Sea Escape, "has been a cruise consultant and an extremely important advisor" since the project's conception two years ago. Lund was unavailable for comment. Jorgenson also revealed that one of the partners is part-owner of Mississippi-based Pride Cruise Lines.
Jorgenson has spent the past 23 years in Las Vegas' casino industry and will be in charge of casino operations as well as hotel and food/beverage concessions. He said the ship, which was converted from a car ferry, would be comparable to a regular cruise ship.
Pacific Avalon Marine in Newport Beach, Ca. is a little ahead of the game with reconstruction underway for a 220-foot passenger ship in Louisiana's Pacific Gulf Shipyard.
Scheduled for completion by next February, the Cayman-flagged, 800-passenger FantaSea, will be managed and operated by FantaSea Cruise Lines, a division of PAM. According to Roy King, president of PAM, upon completion the ship's estimated value would be $5,200,000, and two more ships are scheduled. The FantaSea will offer luxury cruises to Ensenada and Rosarita, Mexico and will feature all the amenities of a traditional cruise plus a special lounge for off-track betting.
This is the first cruise venture for eight-year old PAM, a yachting charter company which offers services in marine consulting, from ship design and construction, through operations. PAM is a privately-held company.