Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Chinese travel agency buys Celebrity Cruises ship

Chinese travel agency buys Celebrity Cruises ship

By Jerry Limone
Celebrity CenturyRoyal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. (RCCL), parent of Celebrity Cruises, has agreed to sell the Celebrity Century ship to Ctrip.com International, the largest online travel agency in China.

Ctrip is acquiring the ship through a holding company called Exquisite Marine Ltd., a subsidiary of Skyseas Holding International. Skyseas was founded by Ctrip and other investors to offer cruises to Chinese customers.

Ctrip and RCCL said that they have entered into a memorandum of understanding to form a joint venture to manage the operations of the acquired cruise ship “and potentially broaden the relationship.”

“Ctrip will capitalize on our strong brand, large customer base and superior service quality, as well as our partner's extensive cruise operating experience, to generate great value to our customers and shareholders," Ctrip President Min Fan said in a statement.

The 1,815-passenger Century will sail for Celebrity Cruises until April 2015. After that, the ship will be renovated, Ctrip said.

The Century’s final Celebrity cruise has been altered. A 15-night Dubai-to-Rome sailing departing April 5 is now a 14-night cruise from Dubai to Singapore.

Guests have the option to cancel and receive a full refund or take another cruise and receive an onboard credit as well as compensation to cover air change fees.

RCCL said that the sale of Celebrity Century will result in a noncash loss of approximately $20 million. The ship entered service in 1995 and is now the oldest and smallest ship in Celebrity’s fleet.

RCCL Chairman Richard Fain called the ship’s sale “an excellent business opportunity for both Royal Caribbean and Ctrip."