Aussie mogul’s $1.4b bet on cruise ship industry
Australian cruise line owner Glen Moroney is taking a $1.4 billion AUD bet that the industry will survive coronavirus, with work starting on a new luxury yacht in Croatia.
Scenic Cruise lines has started work on Eclipse II, a six star vessel designed for the top end of the market.
The coronavirus has stopped ships all over the world and been the source of significant outbreaks, raising questions about the industry's long term future.
Mr Moroney has defied the gloom with workers at the 3 Maj shipyard in Rijeka on the Adriatic Sea, starting work last week.
It was part of an $1.4 billion (860 million euro) order of four luxury cruise yachts, which have been designed to give people the chance to feel like they are a billionaire.
Trips on the original Eclipse, which includes access to a helicopter and submarine, cost more than $40,000 for a 23-day cruise around Antarctica, South Georgia and the Falkland Islands.
The new ship, which resembles a commercial version of James Packer's $200 million cruiser IJE, has capacity for 228 passengers.
The ship was ordered by MKM Yachts, a subsidiary of Scenic, an Australian operation which has become a leading cruise company.
Saša Čokljat, managing director of MKM Yachts, said the ship would boost both Scenic and the Croatian shipbuilding industry.
"During the crisis caused by the coronavirus, we are starting a new business that will, we believe, strengthen Scenic's fleet, as well as Rijeka's shipyard," he said, according to Croatian media reports.
The 166m Eclipse II was due to be the first ship built at the Rijeka shipyard in four years.
The original eclipse was built in nearby Uljanik but the shipyard went broke during construction.
Scenic waived $83 million in Croatian government guarantees and had to take over the project and build it themselves.
Mr Cokljat said smaller ships would be the new frontier in cruising, as the world adjusts to coronavirus.
"As other cruising companies put their projects on hold, Scenic Group 3. Maj begins to create a common future for both Scenic and the Croatian shipbuilding industry on a sound basis," he said.
"I believe the niche for the construction of research cruisers represents a sound direction for the revival of Croatian shipbuilding, its new face in the future. We can be proud that the construction of one of the best ships in the world in its class is taking place right here in Rijeka", Čokljat added."
The new Eclipse will be made with 1000 tonnes of steel, which was sourced from North Macedonia.
The Eclipse, which has 32sqm suites, was voted the best luxury liner in the world in 2019, and will be docked in Rijeka from May 2 for the remainder of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Moroney founded Scenic in Newcastle as a touring company in 1986 but moved into cruises in 2008.
Originally published as Aussie mogul's $1.4b bet on cruise ship industry