Sunday, January 11, 2009

Regent Seas Seas Cruises Will Reduce, And Keep, Its Fleet At Three

Regent has confirmed that its new ship is now further from reality than it had been.  Granted with the present economy it is not surprising (and, to be sure, may well make some good economic sense), but there was so much "talk" about it by Regent that its now discussing the mothballing of the ship  is of worthy note.

The new ship was originally one of grandeur.  Then, after Regent was sold to Apollo Management and folded into Prestige Cruise Holdings, the new ship was no longer to a one-off, but rather a modification of the second of its new sister company's (Oceania Cruise Line) soon to be delivered ship...but with different public spaces and larger suites. 

That, of course, pushed to anticipated delivery date from 2009 (something I said would never happen anyway) to April 2010 at best.  In order for that date to be met, Regent (er, Prestige Cruise Holdings) would have to have exercised the option by September 2008; something that did not happen.

It is reported that Regent is focused on completing the refurbishment of the Mariner (having just finished the work on the Voyager) and then figuring out what type of work it may do on the Navigator in 2010.  According to Andrew Poulton, director of communications for Regent, until the cost of construction, currency exchange rates and the economy improve, plans are not going to move forward.  That, obviously, could mean a long wait for now.

Having its relationship with the Paul Gauguin ending at the end of this year, my guess is that Regent would have preferred a new ship and dumping Navigator, but that is not an option anymore.  So by the end of 2009, barring something unanticipated, Regent will be a three ship company...with nothing "exciting" on the hardware front expected until 2011. 

That may be a bit of a challenge for a luxury product.  Seabourn has been extremely successful with older hardware due to its superlative service and cuisine.  I am concerned, however, that Regent - which has been admitted struggling with inconsistent service and cuisine - may not be able to pull off such an accomplishment, even if it markedly improves because it must service 700+; not 200.  We shall see.