Middle East Cruise News

Phoenix Reisen confirms sale of oldest ship Albatros to Middle East hotel group

The German cruise line Phoenix Reisen has announced the sale of its oldest cruise ship, Albatros, due to reduced demand and the coronavirus-inflicted need to make the company more efficient and profitable.

“Despite all the anticipation, we have to keep an eye on the profitability of our company. So it was with a heavy heart that we decided to hand over the MS Albatros from the Phoenix fleet to new hands,” the company said, in a translated statement.

Albatros is the oldest ship in the Phoenix Reisen fleet

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According to the statement, translated from German, the 1973-built cruise ship will start a new life as a hotel ship for the Pick Albatros Group in the Middle East, which operates a number of hotels and resorts.

The Egyptian group operates 16 hotels across Egypt, half of them in Sharm el-Sheik and the rest primarily in towns and cities along the country’s Red Sea coast. It’s unclear where the group plans to base the ship for its operation as a floating hotel.

Most cruise lines have sold ships due to new acquisitions, such as Fred Olsen’s sale of two vessels due to incoming tonnage from Holland America Line, or due to newbuilds in progress, such as Carnival Cruise Line.

Phoenix Reisen’s sale of Albatros, however, will leave it with just three ships, Amadea, Amera and Artania, all of which are still vintage by modern cruise standards, having been built in the 1980s and 90s.

Albatros at sea

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Albatros was originally launched as the Royal Viking Sea for the Royal Viking Line, which operated from 1972 until 1998.

The cruise line sailed longer voyages to exotic destinations, and a significant percentage of the line’s passengers were wealthy retirees, a market niche Phoenix Reisen has continued to target.

Albatros joins several ships that have been sold this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, including 18 Carnival Corp. vessels (as well as four Fantasy-class ships from Carnival Cruise Line); the entire Cruise & Maritime Voyages fleet after the line declared bankruptcy; and the entire Pullmantur fleet for the same reason.

Albatros’ fate seems to have been more favourable, for now, than many of her fleet mates in the global cruise industry, with at least 14 ships in imminent danger of being scrapped, representing the greatest sell off of tonnage for the cruise industry since SOLAS 2010 was introduced.

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