In a sudden move, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises' Radisson Diamond has been sold and will leave the fleet in June of 2005. The news about the 350-passenger ship, which was never owned by RSSC and was instead chartered from Finnish investors, is not entirely surprising -- the cruise line had made it clear that it was not interested in acquiring the ship, the world's largest twin-hull cruise vessel. What did catch executives off guard was the timing of the deal. RSSC executives had requested to continue operating the ship at least through its well-booked summer season in Europe.
Radisson Diamond will begin a new life as a Hong Kong-based luxury casino vessel.
The ship will wind up its tenure at RSSC following a Venice to Piraeus (Athens) seven-night sailing on May 28. Passengers booked on cruises following that date will receive full refunds and a $700-per-person credit for a future cruise that must be used in 2005.
Radisson Diamond, though not considered a future player in the Radisson fleet, is certainly a sentimental favorite. It, along with Song of Flower (which also has departed the fleet) established the line's fleet when RSSC was formed in 1994 as a result of a merger of Diamond Cruise Line and Seven Seas Cruise Line.
It's departure is also yet another sign of the company's evolution; RSSC is placing more focus and emphasis on newer-built all-suite vessels such as Seven Seas Voyager, Seven Seas Mariner and Seven Seas Navigator. RSSC has already announced that the line's famed Paul Gauguin, also operated on lease basis, will depart in early 2007.
At this point, the company has not announced plans for new-builds, and bearing in mind that it takes at least two years between a new ship building announcement and its delivery, the line will stay as is -- at least through 2007.