Workers to run SeaFrance ferries under Eurotunnel deal
The assets of liquidated ferry operator SeaFrance have been awarded to Eurotunnel in a deal that is expected to bring three ships back into operation. Under the deal, the Channel Tunnel operator will buy three SeaFrance ferries and charter them to a workers' co-operative, restoring 560 jobs.
Eurotunnel made a €65 million (USD79.4 million) bid and was awarded the assets by a French court
SeaFrance went into liquidation earlier this year with the loss of 880 jobs in France and about 130 in Dover, Kent. The ferry company went into receivership in 2010. Its vessels had carried more than 3.5 million passengers a year on the Dover to Calais route. The firm owned three of the four ships it ran across the Channel, which have been tied up in Calais since January.
The tribunal in Paris awarded the assets on the condition the shipping company operated under the French flag and Eurotunnel leased the ships, 'SeaFrance Rodin', 'SeaFrance Berlioz' and 'SeaFrance Nord pas-de-Calais' to a workers' co-operative. It is not yet clear whether the new company will operate under the SeaFrance name.
The deal puts Eurotunnel in direct competition with P&O Ferries which operates ferries between Dover and Calais, carrying eight million passengers a year. A statement issued by P&O said: "P&O Ferries is waiting to see the detail of Eurotunnel's proposals but on the face of it the decision of the Tribunal de Commerce raises issues for the cross-Channel market as a whole.
"We will be highlighting to the competition authorities our concern that a level playing field is preserved to enable competition on a fair basis."
Former SeaFrance workers were each given a £25,000 (USD38,600) redundancy pay-out on the proviso that the money would be put straight back into such an organisation in a bid to resurrect a French-owned Dover-Calais service. Eurotunnel, the Port of Dover's biggest rival, plans to use that capital to help launch its new independent ferry firm which could be fully operational by the end of the summer.
PNG election delays release of ferry report
It will be some time before a report into Papua New Guinea's worst maritime disaster, the sinking of the 'Rabaul Queen', is made public.
The 'Rabaul Queen' sank off Lae in February, killing at least 140 people.Just over 240 people were rescued, but there are questions over how many were actually on board.
A Commission of Inquiry was set up to investigate the cause of the tragedy.
At the end of June, Commissioner Warwick Andrew handed his final report to the caretaker Prime Minister Peter O'Neill in Port Moresby. In a statement Mr O'Neill thanked Commissioner Andrew and said it's important the victims' relatives know what happened. He said the 200-page report will not be released to the public until it's tabled in parliament.
That's unlikely to happen for at least a month, if not longer, as the country's general election is currently underway and parliament won't sit until a new government is formed.
Rabaul Shipping, the owner of the ill-fated ferry, shut down operations after the company's remaining vessels were burned when compensation negotiations broke down.
Seven of P&O Cruise's fleet together at port of Southampton
P&O’s Grand Event
P&O UK World Cruises celebrated 175 years of heritage this month, with celebrations commenced in their UK home port of Southampton on 3rd July. The Grand Event saw seven ships of the P&O Cruises fleet come together for the first time to mark the historic occasion.
P&O Cruises World Cruising managing director, Carol Marlow said it was an honour to have Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal attend the official reception onboard the 'Oriana': “As one of our esteemed godmothers, Princess Anne’s presence and the congregation of our entire fleet to celebrate 175 years of heritage will go down in British maritime history and provide long lasting memories,” Ms Marlow said.
The Grand Event is part of a year of celebrations in 2012, marking 175 years of heritage. P&O Cruises can trace its roots back to 1837 when the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company was awarded the Admiralty contract to carry mail to the Iberian Peninsula and beyond.
P&O UK World Cruising liners 'Oriana', 'Arcadia' and 'Aurora' regularly visit Australian and New Zealand ports.
The 'Queen Elizabeth' and 'Queen Victoria' together in Norway for the first time
Some positive news of the former Cunard liner 'Queen Elizabeth 2', which has lain idle in Dubai for the past four years. An agreement has been reached to convert the vessel into a 300-room luxury hotel which will be the centerpiece of the cruise terminal at Port Rashid.
Fans of the ship will be delighted to learn that elaborate plans to built penthouse apartments in the ship's funnel have been abandoned. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, chairman of owners Istithmar World, has acknowledged that visitors will want to see the ship as it originally looked, so there are now no proposals to change its appearance.
The ship's fate has been at the centre of fevered speculation since Dubai bought it for USD100 million in 2007. The original plans, which included a purpose-built berth at Palm Jumeirah, were abandoned when Dubai's economy fell into crisis. The vessel has since languished at a desolate and dusty quayside while new options were being considered.
Conversion work on the ship and construction of a museum are expected to be completed within 18 months. Many of the artifacts and artworks collected during the ship's 40 years of service will be put back on show.
In other Cunard news, Norway saw two of Cunard's ships together in the country for the first time at the end of June as both the 'Queen Elizabeth' and the 'Queen Victoria' sailed through the fjords at Flaam, near Sognefjord, where they called for a day. In true Cunard style the sisters saluted each other several times with the echoes of their whistles reverberating through the mountains for long periods after the initial blasts.
The 'Pacific Sun'
Pacific Sun sails on final cruise
P&O Cruises’ 'Pacific Sun' departed Brisbane on 1st July on her final voyage before she leaves the cruise line’s fleet. Her final cruise is a Pacific Island seven-night voyage.
Affectionately known as “Australia’s favourite cruise ship,” the 'Pacific Sun' has been sailing with P&O Cruises since 2004 and has carried more than half a million Australian passengers on hundreds of holidays over that time. The 47,000-tonne ship was sold by P&O Cruises earlier this year as part of Carnival Australia’s continuing fleet renewal.
Carnival has seven ships based in Australian waters including three P&O Cruises’ ships, three Princess Cruises’ ships and Carnival Cruise Lines’ 'Carnival Spirit' which is due to debut in Australia in October. When the 'Pacific Sun' joined the fleet eight years ago, Carnival Australia had two ships based in Australia – so she has certainly played a role in that growth.
The 'Pacific Jewel' in Sydney
Meanwhile, not to be outdone by P&O’s Sydney-based 'Pacific Jewel', which showed her true colours as the New South Wales “Blues” biggest fan by cruising out of Sydney with a message of support for the state emblazoned across her front ahead of the second State of Origin game, the 'Pacific Dawn' sailed from Brisbane on 30th June with a similar message of support for her home team ahead of the final Origin game. The ship had a giant banner measuring 24 metres by 5 metres above her bow cheering on the Maroons. The 'Pacific Dawn’s 1950 passengers were able to watch the Origin final live on the ship’s newly-installed big screen during a call at Vila, Vanuatu, as part of a seven-night roundtrip Pacific Islands cruise.
The 'Pacific Dawn'
The 'Straitsman' upon arriving in Wellington for the first time in 2010
Finally, New Zealand’s Cook Strait operator Bluebridge sent their RoPax ferry 'Straitsman' to Brisbane for her annual overhaul. The ship left Wellington early on 28th June, arriving in the Brisbane River on 3rd July. She is to resume Cook Strait service from Wellington on 18th July.