Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Louis Cruise Lines and Rio Cruises

Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s
Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Louis Cruise Lines and Rio Cruises

LOUIS MAJESTY at Genoa, photo © Peter Knego, February 2010

Louis Cruise Lines took the first steps to move away from Greek registry on their ships, switching them to the Maltese flag, in a dispute over new Greek pension fund legislation.  If all ships are reflagged, it will affect about 350 Greek crew members, mostly among the engine room, deck and hotel staff.  The first two ships to make the switch were the LOUIS CRISTAL (ex VIKING SAGA, SALLY ALBATROSS, LEEWARD, SUPERSTAR TAURUS, SILJA OPERA, CRISTAL) and the LOUIS CALYPSO (ex CANGURO VERDE, DURR, IONIAN HARMONY, SUN FIESTA, REGENT JEWEL, THE CALYPSO).  The latest acquisition, the 40,876 gross ton LOUIS MAJESTY (ex ROYAL MAJESTY, NORWEGIAN MAJESTY) already was registered in Malta.  The switch is expected to save 300,000 euros per ship, per month.  It could also spell the end of any Greek flag passenger shipping.  Louis has finally settled their dispute with Genting Hong Kong over their failure to complete the purchase of the NORWEGIAN DREAM, paying that company US$13.3 million.  An additional $15.5 million loss the company can be expected to incur involves the sale of the AEGEAN PEARL in 2010.  That is the amount  still owed of the total sale price of $19.5 million to an investment group that later declared bankruptcy.

MV AEGEAN PEARL as PERLA at Istanbul. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2008.

Rio Cruises tenure with their only ship RIO (ex SOUTHWARD, SEAWING, PERLA, AEGEAN PEARL, THE AEGEAN PEARL) was short-lived.  The registered owners of the vessel, Eagles Holding S.A. acquired the 1971-built former Norwegian Caribbean Lines ship from Louis during 2010, but by May the company was bankrupt.  While the ship remained idle at Ashdod, Israel, 320 members of the crew refused to disembark unless they were paid, many remaining on the ship into July under increasingly poor conditions.  In September the 16,710 gross ton ship was auctioned “as is” to an undisclosed buyer for $4.8 million.  At 40 years of age it remains to be seen if this externally very attractive veteran of the early cruise ship era will see further service.

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

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.
Shawn Dake

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