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|Grand Latino |
She began her life as Royal Viking Sky and is currently operated by Iberojet Cruceros. Sold to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will be renamed Boadicca
Arturo Paniagua Mazorra (August 30, 2005)
The Spanish owner Iberojet Cruceros bought their first cruise ship in January last year, and soon it become the Grand Latino. She entered service in the summer 2004 sailing every Monday from Barcelona offering weeklong Western Mediterranean cruises, which were a big success.
Iberojet also operated the faster Grand Voyager from Valencia last year, also offering seven night Western Mediterranean cruises. This summer, the Grand Latino is based in Valencia.
The Fast Growing European Cruise Market
Spain represents the fastest growing European cruise market, Alfredo Serrano Chacón, Iberojet Cruceros general manager, said at the last Seatrade Mediterranean, "The Spanish market has some specific characteristics: first, the passengers are younger and tend to cruise mainly in summer. Furthermore, they select their cruise mainly for the calls, and don't like mixing with other Europeans.
The language is a fundamental factor for the Spanish passengers. Lastly, Spaniards don't like formal dress in the evenings, or the rigidities of some cruises".
Secondly, Mr. Serrano revealed that Iberojet had ordered a market study in Spain about cruises. In that sounding, in which 12 % of those interviewed gave no opinion, 60 % of those interviewed declared that they chose their cruise on the recommendation of their travel agent.
Another 16 % chose from the publicity messages, while a 9 % made their choice base based on the reputation of the cruise operators. Lastly, only 3 % made their decision exclusively on price. Lastly, Serrano commented that the European cruise market was designed almost exclusively for newcomers and commented on the difficulty of attracting repeat business with the existing limited fleet.
From Luxury Ship To Mass Market Vessel
The Grand Latino began her life as Royal Viking Sky. She was the second of a three ship series built by O/Y Wartsila, for a consortium of Norwegian owners, which also formed Royal Viking Line to market their new ships.
They were de-luxe ships, designed for worldwide cruising, and designed for a select clientele constituted mainly of healthy middle aged American or European executives with their partners, who had both the time and the money to afford a RVL ticket.
The itineraries of these ships were very varied, and never repeated a trip in their first years. Her cruises were usually very long, and a three months Round the World cruise was offered each year. Inside, these ships were very roomy, with a low grt/pax ratio, and the passengers were attended by a well trained, well paid, highly motivated and numerous crew, among them their always renowned Scandinavian waitresses.
These well balanced liners were gifted with a pronounced clipper bow surmounting a bulbous forefoot, the sunning spaces were amidships and aft, around the pool, which was housed in one of the terraced decks that finishes in a beautiful cruise stern.
The aerodynamic funnel had a big Q.E.2 influence.
The Royal Viking Sky sailed quietly in her first ten years. The old Guard people enjoyed her decks: senior financiers, artists, professionals, etc.
However, towards the end of the seventies in trying to accommodate the development of the cruise market, their owners resolved to increase the size and passenger capacity of the three ships by 200 people, with the introduction of a new 28 m. section.
The advantages were clear: the cost of the three lengthening operations (100 million $) was the same as a fourth similar ship, but the building time was reduced from two years to three months. The crew costs of that fourth ship were eliminated and the seafaring conditions improved notably, as was also the aesthetic appearance of these ships.
The fuel expenses increased by 20% for each ship, but increased their capacity by 40%. The Royal Viking Sky underwent this conversion in 1982 from September to November in the German yard AG Weser.
Also, in these years, her Scandinavian crew begun to be changed to cheaper Filipinos and Third World crews... But a de-luxe ship needs a de-luxe crew.
This transformation was not well accepted by their tradi