November 29, 2001
The eight Renaissance Cruises ships that were up for auction in Gibraltar this month have been sold. The ultra-new R1 - R8 ships (with the exception of R3 and R4, which are still docked in Papeete, Tahiti) were acquired by Cruiseinvest, a company based in the Marshall Islands. Look for the ships to sail again soon -- the company is establishing relationships with marine managers and marketers. Of particular relevance, of course, is the fate of the ships – but chances are slim to none that a “Renaissance” fleet will resurface. Jim Dolphin, a senior vice president at New York-based American Marine Advisors, which has been hired to handle overall sales and marketing duties, says “it’s not our intention to create a cruise line. The intention is to place them with other cruise lines -- to sell or lease them to other cruise lines.” He adds that “plenty of people are interested” but beyond vague mentions of cruise lines and “niche” operators (i.e. tour companies) he has no news on any potential buyers (or lessors). Also sold -- but to a mystery buyer -- were Renaissance’s two yachtlike ships, the RVII and RVIII; the industry was abuzz with the speculation that one-time Renaissance Cruises chief Frank Del Rio was attempting to raise enough financing to win a bid for the ships. They did go to the same buyer. Meanwhile, the R3 and R4 continue to wait, forlornly, in Tahiti for a word on their new lease-on-life. An industry insider says Manfred Ursprunger, Renaissance’s last CEO, is still working with French investors to raise money to restart sailings there.