The COSTA VOYAGER has been sold to Chinese interests as the first ship of a new cruise line.
Costa Crociere S.p.A., wasted little time in selling off their smallest ship, the 24,391 gross ton COSTA VOYAGER (ex OLYMPIC VOYAGER, OLYMPIA VOYAGER, VOYAGER, GRAND VOYAGER) which spent less than three years with the company. The Chinese Bohai Ferry Company, Ltd., intends to become the newest entrant in the cruise business. They reportedly paid $43.68 million for the fast 27 knot cruise ship, built in 2000 for Royal Olympic Cruises. The COSTA VOYAGER had come to Costa Cruises from their Ibero Cruceros Spanish subsidiary fairly recently in 2011. Last year, as Costa was in the midst of revamping their image and making adjustments to their fleet, Carnival Chairman Micky Arison stated, “Our intention is to sell off older, less-efficient ships,” and revealed that two members of the Costa fleet would be laid up or sold in 2014. The COSTA VOYAGER is the first to go and will be replaced by the 48,206 ton, 710-foot long COSTA NEORIVIERA (ex MISTRAL, GRAND MISTRAL) which is also a transfer from the Ibero Cruceros division. Along with the rebuilt COSTA NEOROMANTICA (ex COSTA ROMANTICA), the two ships will form an upscale division of the company known as the Costa neoCollection featuring a “slow cruising” concept, meaning a more intimate atmosphere, longer port calls, and a focus on locally sourced foods. Although the COSTA VOYAGER was described in early publicity materials as “human sized” it proved too small for the demands of a primarily mass-market line like Costa.
The COSTA NEORIVIERA is the newest member of the upscale “Costa neoCollection” division.
The German-built, former Greek and Italian cruise ship should make a very attractive addition to the burgeoning Chinese cruise fleet. Constructed by Blohm + Voss, it was the first new ship to be built for the defunct Royal Olympic Cruises and in addition to her attractive interior design is notable as being one of the fastest ships in the world. In its current configuration it is capable of carrying 804 passengers.
The 35,000 gross ton BOHAI JINGZHU which translates as “Crystal Pearl” entered service in October, 2012.
Bohai Ferry Company, Ltd., is a publicly traded company on the Shanghai stock exchange based in Yanti, China. Last year they established a Hong Kong subsidiary dedicated to entering the cruise business. While this is their first foray into cruising, the company also runs a fleet of roll-on, roll-off passenger ferries including their latest group of four 35,000 gross ton ships newly built in 2012 and 2013. The COSTA VOYAGER dimensions are 590 feet with an 84 foot beam. Those measurements are very similar in size to the quartet of 300-vehicle ferries at 585 feet by 92 feet. However that is where the similarities end, as those ships have a much higher air draft, significantly greater tonnage and carry 2.038 passengers on the route from Dalian to Yanti. While a new name has yet to be announced, all of the company ships currently start with BOHAI followed by a descriptive word in Chinese. Bohai Ferry is the largest passenger-roro operator in China.
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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