Albatros was built in 1973 as Royal Viking Sea for Royal Viking Line.
Pickalbatros Hotels & Resort Hotelgruppe
The ship was acquired by Pickalbatros Hotels & Resort Hotelgruppe, a venture controlled by the Egyptian businessman Kamel Abou-Aly, whom Phoenix describes as a longstanding friend and valued business partner.
Albatros has an overall length of 205 metres and accommodates 830 guests.
The ship will be renamed, and it is expected to again serve the German market in its new hotel guise. Pickalbatros operates numerous hotels and resorts, more than 15 in Egypt alone. The sale price was not disclosed.
Pandemic a reason for the sale
Since Phoenix Reisen concentrates on the touristic side of the cruise business, Albatros was — like the rest of the fleet — under third party management, since March 2018 by Bernhard Schulte Cruise Services / BSM Cruise Services.
The ship has been laid up since spring and is now being repositioned to the Columbus Cruise Center Bremerhaven in preparation for the transfer of ownership on Oct. 20. Already the day before Albatros is expected to set sail for Egypt.
In an emotional statement, Phoenix Reisen expressed sadness about the ship's departure. The company said it had always planned to celebrate Albatros's 50th anniversary in 2023 with numerous special sailings. But economic reasons dictated the need to part with the vessel.
Passengers will be contacted with alternative options. Some 2021 itineraries will be assumed by Amadea, one of Phoenix Reisen's four remaining ocean cruise ships.
Solid, family-owned company
While the sale of Albatros was unexpected, Phoenix Reisen — like all cruies operators — has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Ocean cruises have been suspended since spring, while river cruising was successfully restarted in summer but then terminated early due to numerous changes to itineraries and operations dictated by the COVID-19 situation.
Seatrade Cruise News understands about two-thirds of the passenger volumes and turnover were lost during the current business year. On the other hand, Phoenix is one of the few family-owned companies with an unusually high equity ratio. Besides, its business model relies significantly on repeat customers and on relatively small vessels which are expected to have an easier return to the market.
For these reasons, German industry insiders expect Phoenix Reisen will not only survive the pandemic but might be among those players that re-emerge in an even stronger position in the long run.