Italy: Grimaldi Continues Fast Track Expansion

Monday, March 08, 2004

Manuel Grimaldi confided to some close friends last December that not only had he decided to set up a new line from Italy to Spain but also to purchase Superfast 1 now called Eurostar Roma for about $49.3 million. The specification of the vessel will mean a greater presence in Mediterranean RoRo and in fact there are now three of this type of vessel under the name of Grimaldi Ferry Prestige. The new purchase Eurostar Roma (pictured opposite page) was presented by the Naples shipping group in Rome on January 23, 2004. The vessel is 24,000 tons, 570.8 ft. (174 m) long, with a beam of 78.7 ft. (24 m) and a cruising speed of 27 knots. Eurostar Rome can carry 1,400 passengers with 100 cars as well as 110 trailers. The ship will carry out a thrice weekly service between Civitavecchia and Barcelona. Sailing time for Barcelona is 18 hours and nine hours for Golfo Aranci. The name of the new Grimaldi-Naples vessel was chosen because of Civitavecchia's identification as the port of Rome. Grimaldi-Naples Group, headed by Guido Grimaldi, is a leader in the transport of cars and wheeled vehicles and owns one of the largest multi purpose and car carrier RoRo fleets in the world with 50 vessels, of which 31 are newbuilds, including five under construction. The Naples group operates shipping lines to over 100 ports in 40 countries in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Scandinavia, British Isles, West Africa and North and South America. Since 1997 the company has spent approximately $1.3 billion modernizing the fleet, and its number of employees has risen from 1,000 to 3,100.

Three Newbuilds for Grimaldi

The car carrier Grande Lagos, the seventh of a 10-vessel order, was launched on February 22 at the Croatian yard Uljanik at Pola for Italy's Grimaldi-Naples. Grande Lagos, which will be delivered in May, is a 44,500 ton 650-ft. (198.4-m) long ship with capacity for 5,400 cars or 456 trucks and 200 cars on 45,671 sq. m., and has a cruising speed of 20 knots. The other three vessels will be delivered at Uljanik for Grimaldi-Naples during the period from 2004 and 2006. On February 16, Grimaldi-Naples took delivery of Grande Buenos Aires at Fincantieri Ancona; the last of five sister ships ordered in December 2000.

The ship of 56.000 tons is 702 ft. (214 m) long with a beam of 105 ft. (32 m). It can carry 2,500 cars as well as 2,500 lane m and space for 850 teu. Grande Buenos Aires joins nine other Grande class vessels already in service on Grimaldi-Naples' established lines Northern/Europe/West Africa and Northern Europe/South America. Grimaldi Prestige Ferries the Group's new passenger and car trade name will inaugurate a new fast service from Civitavecchia to Barcelona three times a week and Civitavecchia to Golfo Aranci once a week with the ultra new RoPax Eurostar Roma a 24,000 ton ferry of 571 ft. (174 m) and a cruising speed of 27 knots able to carry 1,400 passengers, 100 cars and 110 trailers.

Fincantieri To Build Three for Finnlines

Fincantieri and Finnlines, the Finnish shipping company, last month signed a contract to build three RoPax ferries for a total contract value of about $300 million. The order contains options for two additional ships at about $100 million each. The three ships will be employed by Finnlines to connect Helsinki and Travemunde (Germany). Finnlines works mainly in North Europe and the Baltic Sea; as well as its traditional shipping activities (carried out by its fleet of 70 ships), the company also works in the field of port services (management of terminals, moving goods in ports etc.). The first vessel will be delivered at the end of 2005, the second and the third in mid 2006.

The 42,000 gt vessels will sport a loading capacity of 9,300 tons, a maximum length 708.6 ft. (216 m), breadth 100 ft. (30.5 m), height to the upper deck 52. 5 ft. (16 m) and a draft of approximately 23 ft. (7 m), with 225 deluxe cabins. The ships are unique in that they are able to carry up to 500 passenger and 300 trucks in 4,200 lane meters, reported to be record figures for a ships of this type. The ships will be equipped with four Wärtsilä 9L46D engines, capable of providing a total power of 48,000 kW and a service speed of 25 knots.

Italy: Working Hard to Eradicate Substandard Ships

Italy ranks number one in Europe for the number of ship inspections, with 2,431 last year, or 37 percent of ships berthed. It also leads in the number of ships stopped, with 392, which were held in port until faults were remedied. In part due to this effort the Italian flag has again been included in the White List that is the list of countries with the safest ships. The checks carried out by the coast guard are conducted in accordance with EU directives that provide for 26 percent of all ships calling to be inspected. Called Port State Control, it is the means by which the EU imposes respect for safety at sea and carries out the fight against substandard vessels. The year 2004 started with two out of six ships stopped. The M/N Spiros K with Honduras flag is still held in port since December 30, as the 1,851 ton, 90 m bulk carrier was found to have 33 deficiencies, some of which represented a serious risk for navigation and environmental protection

Costa Places $450m Order With Fincantieri

The board of Costa Crociere on January 19 approved the issue of a letter of intent for the construction of a new ship at Finantieri. Value of the order is about $450 million. The 951-ft. (290-m), 112,000-ton vessel will be built in the Sestri Ponente yard in Genoa, scheduled to enter service in summer 2005. Designed to carry 3,600 passengers in 1,502 cabins, the ship will be bigger than the current fleet admiral Costa Fortuna which joined the fleet in November 2003 and its sister Costa Magica at the moment under construction at Sestri Ponente.

On completion the vessel will become the largest cruise ship in the history of Italian shipping.

The ship will be powered by two 21 MW diesel electric units and will operate all year round in the Mediterranean. In addition two swimming polls will be covered in order to be in use all year round in any climatic condition. As a result of an agreement of September 2003 between Costa Crociere and TIM cell phones will be operable on board. Pier Luigi Foschi president and managing director of Costa Crociere said "our decision to increase capacity resulted from the full acceptance of our product by the market and an expected continuing growth of demand for cruises in Europe. We also continue our commitment to develop passenger ship building in Italy where Italy is the world leader. Following on from Costa Fortuna launched in November 2003 and Costa Magica which enters service at the end of 2004 our relationship with Fincantieri which started in 1992 with the building of Costa Classica and Costa Romantica continuous very satisfactorily."

The order for the new vessel was also made possible by the recent harmonizing of law and taxation in Italy. Introduction of the tonnage tax has brought Italy into line with the rest of Europe enabling Italian flag ships to operate internationally in a stable and competitive climate. Giuseppe Bono managing director of Fincantieri said "this new order of which we are particularly proud is further recognition of the excellence of our products which combine rigorous cost control, innovative technology and respect for delivery times and enable our company to be at the very top. In fact this new order once again demonstrates the long sightedness and success of Costa Crociere and brings our order book up to nine ships enabling us to look with confidence at the near future in a moment when the market is not especially positive." This new ship brings the Costa Crociere fleet investment from 2001 to 2006 to 2 billion euros. Two new ships entered service in 2003, Costa Mediterranea in June and Costa Fortuna in November. Costa Magica the sister ship of Costa Fortuna is expected to join the fleet at the end of 2004.

"New" Costa Victoria Due in Savona

The ship, renovated thanks to the installation of panorama verandas in 242 cabins and four minisuites, was premiered in mid-February Costa Victoria, one of the 10 ships in the Costa Crociere fleet after a facelift involving the addition of panorama verandas with private views to 242 cabins. The balconies were installed during a one-month stop when Costa Victoria was dry-docked at the German Lloyd Werft shipyard in Bremerhaven, where she was built. The work involved the fitting of panorama balconies to 242 oceanview cabins on decks 9 and 10, as well as to four minisuites on deck 11— in all, 43 percent of the ship's oceanview cabins. This was the first time that refurbishing of this kind had been carried out on a cruise ship that was already in service.

The installation of the new verandas, which measure about 4.5 sq. m. in the oceanview cabins and roughly 9 sq. m. in the minisuites, also provided the chance to revamp other areas on board the ship. The buffet terrace, located on the stern lido on deck 11, has been extended by 60 sq. m., while two panorama promenades — each about 140 m in length — have also been added to deck 11, one on either side of the ship. With the advent of the upgraded Costa Victoria, some 44 percent of the fleet's oceanview cabins are now fitted with verandas overlooking the sea. Considering only the new design cruise ships built after 1996 (Costa Victoria, Costa Atlantica, Costa Mediterranea and Costa Fortuna), this figure is even higher, at 72 percent. Costa Victoria was built by the Lloyd Werft and entered service in 1996. The 827- x 105-ft. (252- x 32-m) ship is 75,000 gt, and can accommodate up to 2,394 guests in 964 cabins. The interiors of the Costa Victoria were designed by the Italian architect Pierluigi Cerri, and feature mosaics by Emilio Tadini.

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