This Week in Cruise: Norwegian Buys the Ocean Princess; Royal Caribbean and Ctrip Form Partnership

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced an agreement with Princess Cruises to purchase the Ocean Princess for Norwegian Holdings' newly acquired Oceania Cruises brand. Norwegian Holdings acquired Oceania as part of its purchase of Prestige Cruises International, which was finalized late last week. 

The 684-passenger Ocean Princess will be renamed Sirena and join Oceania Cruises' trio of sister ships, Insignia, Regatta and Nautica.

Ocean Princess was formerly called Tahitian Princess but renamed by Princess in 2009. Oceania plans to use the new ship to expand the number and diversity of destination-focused itineraries on offer.

Royal Caribbean Cruises and International agreed to form a partnership through SkySea Cruises, a joint venture which is designed to serve the Chinese cruise market. Royal Caribbean and Ctrip will each own 35 percent of the new company, with the balance being owned by SkySea management and a private equity fund. The transaction is expected to close before the end of November.

"We look forward to working with Ctrip, a Chinese travel leader, to build a national cruise line for China," said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises. "SkySea Cruises represents an important strategic milestone in our expansion efforts in the Chinese market."

The new cruise line will begin service in the middle of 2015 and will operate with one ship. The venture anticipates the potential for additional vessels to be added over time. Sales and marketing activities have commenced.

Celebrity Cruises and local Indonesian authorities are having an undisclosed dispute. As a result, the upper premium line cancelled Celebrity Millennium's port calls in Bali and at Komodo Island this week. Celebrity Millennium is currently operating a 14-night cruise roundtrip from Singapore to Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. The ship departed on this voyage on Nov. 23.

The two-night port visit in Bali, whcih was set for Nov. 26 and 27, has been cancelled. Also cancelled was a port call at Komodo Island set for Sunday, Nov. 30. 

Instead, Celebrity called at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the day before and on Thanksgiving, and at the port for Bangkok on Nov. 29 and 30. Celebrity would not elaborate futher when asked about the exact nature of the dispute. 

"In recognition of the impact this issue has had on our guests’ vacation, Celebrity Cruises will provide each guest with an onboard credit, as well as a future cruise certificate for 30 percent of the cruise fare paid," Celebrity said in a statement to the media.

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