Monday, October 13, 2008

Report: Regent Seven Seas to Cease Operating Paul Gauguin in 2009 - UPDATED- Renovations Announced

A reliable travel industry source is reporting this morning that Regent Seven Seas will be announcing that it is ceasing operating the Paul Gauguin at the end of 2009.

While I have heard this sort of news previously - believing it to be more of a negotiating tactic than anything else - the fact is that Grand Circle Travel owns the ship and with the departure of Princess Cruise Lines from French Polynesia it really has the market cornered. (True, Star Flyer is there and Silversea is offering its Prince Albert II for a limited period of time, but they put little dent in the year round market that Regent had tapped.) Therefore, it is not surprising that GCT may want the ship for itself.

When one considers the high cost of chartering, the high cost of airfares, the high cost of operations, etc. in French Polynesia, Prestige Cruise Holdings may have decided that in this economy it had better consolidate and focus on its core product.

UPDATE: In an apparent consistent twist, today (October 16, 2008) Paul Gauguin Shipping Limited, not Regent Seven Seas Cruises, announced a $6,000,000 renovation of the ship. It will include the conversion of 26 Category D oceanview staterooms into balcony staterooms (done on the exterior, so the staterooms remain the same size), modifying Le Grill (the poolside dining area) and Le Veranda's (the alternative restaurant) al fresco dining area, recarpeting and upgrading the public areas/internet cafe and "refreshing" the staterooms (whatever that means). The work is to be completed during the late January - early February 2009 drydock in Brisbane, Australia.

Also, on October 10,2008 PGSL announced it has a new Executive VP of Sales, Roy Grimsland. "He will be responsible for driving product sales of the five-plus star, 332-passenger Paul Gauguin." Interestingly, Mr. Grimsland worked for Radisson Seven Seas "where he launched and drove sales of Paul Gauguin for seven years" according to Cruise Industry News.

I will update this as information becomes available.