by Kevin Griffin writing for cybercruises.com
The mood at All Leisure group’s cruising ventures is one of uncertainty, along rumours that at least one of their ships, if not two, could be going to other operators.
Swan Hellenic’s Minerva (Photo courtesy Damien Mc Carthy)
A one-line message on the website of Swan Hellenic announced this week that the 352-berth Minerva’s “Gateway to the Atlantic Isles” cruise due to leave Marseille tomorrow, January 3, has been cancelled, with apologies to all its passengers.
A similar message on the website of affiliated Voyages of Discovery announced the cancellation of the 556-berth Voyager’s “Riches of the Orient” cruise due to start in Malaysia this Wednesday, January 4.
Unconfirmed reports say that potential buyers inspected Voyager during a recent dry-docking at Keppel shipyard in Singapore. Meanwhile, representatives of Sea Chefs, who operate the vessel’s hotel services, are said to have flown in from Germany to address crew members.
Voyages of Discovery’s Voyager (Ex Alexander von Humboldt)
These announcements follow a long period of uncertainty at All Leisure Group.
In late November 2015, All Leisure sold the 50-berth Hebridean Princess and certain related assets for £2.9 million in cash to a new company, HP Shipping, from which it is chartering the five-star ship back on an eight-year lease. HP Shipping is owned by a syndicate of private investors led by Roger Allard, chairman of and shareholder in All Leisure Group.
In late August 2016, All Leisure Group sold its Egypt specialist operator Discover Egypt, which offers Nile cruises, to its own management team. Discover Egypt is now part of Platinum Holidays, established in May 2016, and includes Roger Allard and All Leisure Holidays’ commercial director Philip Breckner and director David Wiles.
At the time, All Leisure said that All Leisure Holidays would “continue to meet the demands of the growing tour and cruise markets with its brands Travelsphere, Just You, Swan Hellenic, Hebridean Island Cruises and Voyages of Discovery.”
Preceding these changes, Market Harborough-based All Leisure Group had also announced forty staff redundancies.
In its end of year results for October 2015, the group said demand for tours to Turkey and the Middle East was “sharply down” but that Discover Egypt “continued to maintain its historic position as a leading holiday and cruise operator.”
All Leisure left the the stock market last year after months of tough trading conditions. Its turnover for the year to October 2015 was °Í127.3 million, down from £138.9 million a year earlier, but the group did make a £500,000 profit compared with a £7.5 million loss the previous year and a £13.2 million loss the year before that.