Royal Olympic Update

June 21, 2001

In the wake of strange-but-could-they-be-true rumors about Royal Olympic’s financial stability, Piraeus-based John Pantazis, the company's new CEO, and John Wickham, VP for corporate affairs, traveled to New York this week to assure investors and the travel industry that “everything's good, everything's fine.”

In an interview with Wickham, he revealed that the company is still negotiating with shipyard Blohm + Voss for the release of several months-delayed Olympic Explorer -- the most pressing issue for Cruise Critic readers. To recap: the company has, since April, refused to accept delivery, maintaining that the ship is not up to standard -- “technical problems have not been resolved.” Meanwhile, shipyard Blohm + Voss continues to insist the Explorer is ship-shape. Skeptical cruisers may wonder how much the dispute has to due with rumored financial problems --  Wickham admits that Royal Olympic has to pony up 80 percent of the $180 million cost in order to get the ship released. But he says “the situation with the Explorer will be resolved” while also acknowledging that the current September 15 inaugural could be pushed back once again.

Overall, Wickham is bullish about future prospects for Royal Olympic, saying that while “there have been some hiccups in this part of the world,” the company's new top management aims to infuse the firm with “new energy....” Among potential changes for Royal Olympic, which focuses primarily on Mediterranean voyages as well as a sprinkling of Amazon River departures out of Ft. Lauderdale, will be more diverse itineraries, such as South Africa and Rio de Janeiro.

Royal Olympic, which operates 7 ships including the classic Stella Solaris and the world’s-fastest-cruise-ship in the circa Olympic Voyager, which debuted last year, says 50 percent of its passengers are American, with the remainder hailing primarily from Europe.  The cruise line considers its competitors to be Renaissance, for U.S. passengers, and Costa and First European (known as Festival on the continent) for European travelers.