Palmetto, FL (April 28, 2003) Regal Cruises announced that it is ceasing all cruise operations as of today. The Company has cancelled all upcoming cruises on the REGAL EMPRESS beginning with this Thursday’s four - day cruise to Mexico.
The Board of Directors of Regal Cruises has issued the following statement:
“We deeply regret having to take this action, but we had no other choice as the Company has been unable to continue operations after one of its suppliers, Motor-Services Hugo Stamp, Inc., arrested the REGAL EMPRESS on April 18, 2003.
The Company had hoped to negotiate a resolution of this unfortunate action through a sale of its business, which the Company has been pursuing for some time. In light of the world-wide decline in travel and tourism and the short time frame within which the Company could conclude its ongoing sale negotiations necessitated by the arrest, it was unsuccessful.”
The Company is currently gathering information to allow it to file for an Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors in State Court shortly. This would seek to accomplish an equitable distribution of the assets of Regal Enterprises, Inc. to its creditors. Creditors who provided goods and services to the Regal Empress may participate in the arrest proceeding pending in Federal Court.
The Company is deeply sorry for the inconvenience the cancellations of these cruises will cause its passengers. Regal Cruises is now making every effort to contact passengers on the upcoming sailings to advise them of the cruise cancellations.
Further details regarding passenger refunds will follow shortly.
Well, I guess this is it. In the US, the segment of the industry that Bob Dickinson called the "bottom feeders" is now really gone. I guess Imperial Majesty and OCEANBREEZE still exists... And NORWAY is rapidly sliding into that market segment despite being owned by a major cruise line... But that's it.
The Regal collapse came as somewhat of a surprise, I think. I suppose I figured they'd go sooner or later, but I assumed it would be an organized cessation, as in, "we'll finish this year's schedule and that's it" a year or two or three down the road. Regal, at least up until very recently, always seemed to be doing well enough... Certainly they survived long enough to build trust (which, judging by their ownership, was to me always felt rather misplaced)... But perhaps they were not doing as well as I thought! Obviously, they have been having money problems, or they would have been able to pay their bills.
I guess it just goes to show that a cruise line with an older ship (or a few older ships) run on a shoestring budget aiming at the bottom of the market just doesn't work any more in these days of cheap cruises on new megaliners owned by huge conglomerates.
It's a sad thing. REGAL EMPRESS was one of the last connections with both the ocean liner era (the ship, whose type has mostly vanished) and also with the early cruise industry of fledgeling companies with second-hand ships (the manner in which the company operated, which has also mostly vanished).
That said, my sympathy is for REGAL EMPRESS and her employees, not her owners, who have too many connections to the notorious ISP for my taste .
I am so distressed by this. She is one of the only old girls (except for the Norway-which I fortunate enough to sail last July)that exist. I loved her-sailed her in August 1999-I don't understand this-I thought they were a family owned company doing well enough and with enough loyal employees that I always thought they would be an ideal company to buy the Rembrant/Rotterdam.
The story I heard was that they took on a load of adulterated oil which caused massive engine damage. This was rectified but the bill was not (or they were unable to) paid. The legal guys got involved and the results we now see.
Alas, another independant goes the way of the dodo and the carrier pidgeon
quote:Originally posted by Raoul Fiebig: I agree with you in regards to ISP. I guess virtually all of their ships are laid up by now.
Frankly, it will only make the world's seas safer. Of course there are lots of far worse companies out there in the maritime business - it's the nature of such an international business, I suppose, where there is no real regulation - but every little bit helps.
It's a great shame that REGAL EMPRESS is out of work, but in many ways, I don't think it's bad for the industry or for the passengers. It marks the point that ISP has left the US-based cruise market, and that can only be a good thing for all US-based pax!
ISP is a big mystery... For instance... Since they OWN the REGAL EMPRESS, why didn't they bail out the "front company" of theirs (Regal Cruises) that supposedly owned her? Would it be worse to "blow their cover" (and their whole "story" is already known to anyone who bothers to look around) than to just let the whole operation founder? Or can they just not afford it altogether? Seeing as they OWN the ship, why would they let her get siezed?
quote:Originally posted by eandjracquet: I thought they were a family owned company doing well enough and with enough loyal employees that I always thought they would be an ideal company to buy the Rembrant/Rotterdam.
I'm really not sure what happened. Nobody I know of is, and that probably won't change.
Regal Cruises was part of a ring of shipowners that formed "fronts" for International Shipping Partners, a ship owning and management company based out of Miami, led by Niels-Erik Lund, formerly an executive at Denmark's highly respected DFDS.
In the late 1970s, DFDS was putting together a new operation, called Scandinavian World Cruises, to operate a passenger/car ferry service between New York and Florida. The problem, of course, was that such a service would violate the Passenger Services Act of 1886, better known as the "Jones Act", which forbids foreign vessels from operating in between US ports. Scandinavian World Cruises, led by Bruce Nierenberg, a former NCL executive (and later founder of Premier Cruises), was convinced that they could change this, but instaed found US lawmakers far more resistant than expected to change. The "solution" was to purchase and refit two smaller vessels, and to operate the new ship (SCANDINAVIA) from New York to Freeport, Bahamas, with passengers and cars then transferring to one of the other ships to Florida. The venture foundered, the SCANDINAVIA was pulled from the route, and the other ships remained, their primary function now being day-long gambling cruises from various Florida ports to Freeport. DFDS appointed Niels-Erik Lund as President of Scandinavian World Cruises in 1982 as this transition was taking place. Scandinavian World Cruises became SeaEscape, and was sold in the mid-1980s by DFDS, Lund going along with it. Lund and the investors of SeaEscape founded International Shipping Partners in 1987, and proceeded to invest in various passenger shipping businesses worldwide, as well as peddling their services as ship managers (to Premier, for instance).
ISP became notorious in connection with the 1990 fire aboard the SCANDINAVIAN STAR. The SCANDINAVIAN STAR had operated between Tampa and Freeport since 1984 for SeaEscape, which during that time left the hands of DFDS and became, essentially, ISP's first venture. The ship had been sold in 1990 to another one of ISP's associated companies, and put in service between Oslo and Fredrikshavn. Less than a month later, an arsonist (perhaps a disgruntled crew member) set fire to a bundle of laundry. The entire inside of the ship burned, and 158 people were killed. Investigation revealed that the ship did not have proper fire protection. While several officers and the owners of the Danish "front company" that supposedly ran the ship were taken to court and held responsible, a private investigation was led by survivors and family members of deceased victims, which led to the conclusion that the ship had never been sold before, but rather that ISP was still responsible. (By this time it was too late to take anyone to court.) In the meantime, the ship was towed to Southampton where she was laid-up under the name CANDI. In 1994, she was sold to ISP (this time under their own name), and was refitted in Italy and renamed REGAL VOYAGER. The ship operated on various routes in several parts of the world, most recently between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The ship is presently laid-up at Port of Spain, Trinidad, and available for charter. ISP has denied involvement with the ship during the time of the accident, claiming that she was sold by SeaEscape at which point they had nothing more to do with her until buying her at auction in 1994. Because of the inability to re-open the official investigation, it is thought that the entire story of the SCANDINAVIAN STAR disaster has not been unravelled (and will probably not be), however widespread blame has been placed on ISP for allegedly negligently operating the ship, and this has put a black cloud so to speak over all of ISP's ventures since then, and seriously eroded their credibility. Apparently they have become quite notorious in Norway and Demark, Niels-Erik Lund's attitude during a television interview on state-run Danish television has been described as "evasive". A Google search for "International Shipping Partners" came up with this Norwegian site on the topic, unfortunately, it is in Norwegian, so I cannot read it - but it looks quite interesting and demonstrates the interest in Norway and Denmark in ISP and their involvement with what is, of course, one of the worst and most well-known recent maritime disasters, along with ESTONIA and HERALD OF FREE ENTERPRISE (the operators have in all cases come under intense criticism).
So that is a little background about REGAL EMPRESS' owners.
to add to this, Danish prosecutors last December started a new investigation in regards to the "Scandinavian Star" disaster. Apparently there are indications that SeaEscape might have given the order to set the ship on fire. Personally, I cannot comment on this, but Danish prosecutors confirmed that they are lookong into it. A news release I received on December 17th, 2002 says that Henrik Johansen acquired the ship less than two weeks before the fire on behalf of SeaEscape for a total of US$ 10.3 million. But according to the insurance deal signed by Johansen, the ship was worth US$ 24 million.
Reportedly, Norwegian authorities including the former head of the investigtion, Øyvind Thorkildsen, support a relaunch of the official investigation.
quote:Originally posted by Raoul Fiebig: to add to this, Danish prosecutors last December started a new investigation in regards to the "Scandinavian Star" disaster. Apparently there are indications that SeaEscape might have given the order to set the ship on fire.
I have seen this and find it VERY interesting. It has not been established in court to my knowledge:
1. That SeaEscape owned the ship
2. That SeaEscape and ISP are one and the same
(though the above two are considered "common knowledge")
3. That the arsonist was in fact setting the fire on behalf of the owner for insurance fraud!
As far as I can see, the allegations previously against SeaEscape and ISP were simply that they owned the ship (which they apparently deny), and that as a result, they would be responsible for its reckless operation!
The arson itself, was attributed to a disgruntled crew member (who died in the fire)!
Insurance fraud of the type you describe, opens up a whole different can of worms!
quote:Let's see how this develops.
Indeed, it will be very interesting, though so little information manages to filter through to the English-language press.