Seven weeks after cruise line Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) collapsed into administration, the UK High Court has ordered the auctioning off of the ships it operated.
The court ordered the sale in order to pay off debts.
CMV was the marketing, travel agency portion of the business, and the face to consumers. However, as is usually the case in the shipping industry, the legal owners were another company that was based elsewhere. In the case of CMV the ships were owned by separate companies under the umbrella of the Global Maritime Group, which is based in Greece.
CMV focused on the UK market, It operated older, smaller ships that were sold off by the larger cruise line companies. In recent years it had acquired three ships from Carnival Corp, two of which were from its subsidiary P&O Cruises Australia. They had also announced that they would take delivery on two more cruise ships from Carnival’s P&O Australia line in 2021.
Five of the company’s cruise ships were detained by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency in June, three months into the Covid-19 shutdown, amid reports of crew welfare and finance issues.
In July the company made efforts to secure additional financing, but when this last-ditch attempt fell through, CMV was placed in administration. The cruise ships, five of which were owned by Global, while a sixth was under a long-term charter, were impounded.
One of the major creditors is Carnival Corporation, still owed money on the ships that it sold to CMV, and itself having been put under pressure as a result of the pandemic. There were also unpaid fuel bills and wages.
The creditors petitioned the UK High Court and the court has now ordered the cruise ships to be sold to settle the debts. They will be sold independently in a sealed bid auction.
Bids for the Vasco da Gama (IMO 8919245), built in 1993 as the Statendam, will be on October 8th.
The Columbus (IMO 8611398), which was built in 1988 as the Star Princess, are due on October 12th.
Bids for the Magellan (IMO 8217881), built in 1985 as the Holiday, will be due on October 19th.
Bids for the Astor (IMO 8506373), built in 1988, are due by October 15th.
Finally, bids for the Marco Polo (IMO 6417097), built in 1965, are due on October 22nd.
At the end of August of the primary assets of the travel agency portion of the business were sold. The administrator reported that it had been unable to find a buyer for the business as a going concern. They recommended the sale of assets to a new company founded by Christian Verhounig, who formerly headed the CMV operation. These assets included the computer systems with the database, website, and booking system, along with the company’s intellectual property and some tangible assets The Joint Administrators are expected to issue a Statement of Proposals soon.
Verhounig, who will be buying the assets, said that “the global pandemic had a devastating impact on CMV’s once flourishing, expanding and profitable business. The acquisition of the UK commercial assets provides a positive first step and we believe demonstrates our firm commitment and optimism to return much stronger and to work alongside our loyal suppliers and creditors to also help mitigate the pandemic impact.”
The ships, due to their size and age, compounded by the pandemic, were thought likely to be sold for scrap.
Carnival Corporation might bid for three ships, the Vasco da Gama, Columbus, and Magellan, because of the financing it provided to Global for the acquisitions in the first place.
The oldest ship, the Astoria (built in 1948) has attracted attention because it has a history. When it was the Swedish Stockholm it collided with and sunk the Italian liner Andrea Doria in 1956. The Astoria is owned by a Portuguese bank and was chartered to CMV. It is not therefore a part of the upcoming auctions.
1948-built, Portugal-flagged, 16,144 gt Astoria is owned by Islands Cruises Transportes care of manager Sociedade de Consultores Maritimos Lda (SCMA), of Lisbon, Portugal. ISM manager is Global Cruise Lines Ltd of Athens, Greece.
1993-built, Bahamas-flagged, 55,877 gt Vasco Da Gama is owned by Mythic Cruises Ltd care of manager Global Cruise Lines Ltd of Athens, Greece.
1987-built, Bahamas-flagged, 20,704 gt Astor is owned by Passion Shipping & Investment care of manager Global Cruise Lines Ltd of Athens, Greece.
1989-built, Bahamas-flagged, 63,786 gt Columbus is owned by Lyric Cruise Ltd care of manager Global Cruise Ltd of Athens, Greece.
1985-built, Bahamas-flagged, 46,052 gt Magellan is owned by Epic Cruise Ltd care of manager Global Cruise Lines Ltd of Athens, Greece.