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Building Expedition Ships

  Portuguese entrepreneur Mario Ferreira is at the helm of           “I need to build more ships. That is the
Mystic Invest, overseeing more than 30 companies, includ-            situation.”
ing an ambitious expansion into the niche and expedition
ocean cruise market.                                                Among the big investment items has been a complex soft-
                                                                  ware system to assist in Drake Passage transits, optimizing
  Ferreira’s 200-passenger World Explorer will join the           the route against weather.
global cruise fleet this November, chartered to Quark for
an Antarctica season, and then operating for Nicko Cruises,         “I was (in Antarctica) last season. We had incredible seas
which Ferreira owns, in Europe next summer.                       for two days on the way down, and on the way back it was
                                                                  flat as a lake,” Ferreira told Cruise Industry News. “We need
                                                                  to make sure our guests are nice and comfortable as not ev-
                                                                  eryone likes the extreme ride.”

                                                                    Significant resources have been put into energy efficiency.
                                                                  So-called propulsion jet pumps on the stern will be used for
                                                                  dynamic positioning, and will also let the ship maneuver at 4
                                                                  to 5 knots, with the main engines off.

Mario Ferreira, president of Mystic Invest                        Strong Base

   Ferreira (left) on                                               For Ferreira, the $85 million project is a personal passion.
   a visit to his new                                               “Personally I like to build ships. I love to build ships,” he
   ocean ship                                                     said. “We are also running our own ships.”
                                                                    That self-run fleet is sizable, with operations on the rivers
  “The ship is unique, it’s the first (ocean) ship for us,” Fer-  for Nicko and Douro Azul, while also overseeing charters
reira said. In Antarctica, size will be limited to 180 guests,    for other brands.
with the additional capacity used for lecturers and the ex-         For Mystic, Thomas Carlson has been recruited as senior
pedition team. “What we are aiming to do is provide a lot         vice president of operations, bringing a long cruise track re-
of space and comfort. Being a small ship, we have paid            cord.
careful attention to noise, vibration and stability.”               Ferreira has also hired not one, but three captains for the
                                                                  World Explorer, all bringing specific regional knowledge, in-
                                                                  cluding a Russian ice captain for Antarctica.
                                                                    With Nicko opening sales on the World Explorer last Oc-
                                                                  tober for summer 2019, Ferreira called the responsive tre-
                                                                    “We are selling through Nicko as the brand already exists,
                                                                  and the customer base is strong,” he said.
                                                                    Nicko, sourcing German guests, offers a premium experi-
                                                                  ence. Mystic bought the brand in 2015 following financial
                                                                  turmoil and turned it around. Today the company operates
                                                                  21 riverboats across Europe, Africa and Asia, and is now
                                                                  expanding into the ocean business.


                                                                    Ferreira envisions a future with Mystic Cruises as its own

                                                                    “I would like to have a brand and start selling Mystic
                                                                  Cruises, but I don’t have the ships or beds yet,” he said. “I

38	 Cruise Industry News: 2018 Expedition Market Report
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