The cruise ship for Libya, known as Phoenicia, which is currently under construction in France is up for sale. This follows the default on payment for the second instalment of the payment plan.
Phoenicia is part of the Fantasia class, of which MSC have MSC Fantasia, MSC Spendida and MSC Divina. The similarity in the design has meant that MSC are seen as the lead bidder for the 140,000GT cruise vessel, the ship is currently due for delivery in December 2012. MSC Cruises head Pierfrancesco Vago has been quoted as saying the ship would make a suitable addition to the fleet, In addition Lloyds List reported that MSC FRANCE boss Erminio Eschena said his company was considering to buy the vessel.
When ordered, it was widely wondered why Libya’s GNMTC (General National Maritime Transport Company) has ordered one of the worlds largest cruise ships, who would cruise on Gaddafi’s cruise liner? And with 4000 passengers this would not have been a small operation, with Americans likely to stay away the ship would likely have been targeted to the Domestic and Southern european market. There was also a suggestion the ship would be chartered to MSC. At the time or ordering GNMTC were quoted as saying ‘We haven’t got any plans for the time being. We have just ordered it.’
As for the interior decoration of the vessel would also be similar to that of the others in the Fantasia class, which would mean that for a traditional cruise operator to take over changes in design could be small.
Other possible bidders include TUI Cruises who have been continuously mentioned as requiring an additional cruise ship and P&O Austalia, as competition down under heats up. Perhaps even NCL, with their previous history of buying abandoned cruise ships will prevail? Who knows, but they will have to be quick for a December 2012 launch.
Personally I hope its MSC, as MSC Phoenicia sounds quite nice, and it would make a suitable addition for the rest of the fleet, with her three sister ships. Once MSC Divina is delivered next year MSC have no further ships on order.
Tripoli Post – http://www.tripolipost.com/articledetail.asp?c=1&i=4681
GNMTC Press Release – http://www.gnmtc.com/default.php?pname=News&cat_id=1&art_id=81&la=1