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End of the line for Hebridean International

The global economic crisis has claimed another victim in the cruise industry in the shape of small, luxury British operator Hebridean international Cruises, which has gone into administration.

The alarm bells started ringing at Hebridean International a few weeks ago when the Skipton, North Yorkshire-based operator announced the sale of its most recent fleet addition, the 98 passenger capacity Hebridean Spirit to an undisclosed owner due to rising costs. At the time, Mike Deegan, managing director said that ‘we have made this decision to withdraw from international operations to concentrate on our core product, which is the operation of Hebridean Princess in Scotland. For some time now we have experienced rising costs of operating Hebridean in international waters due in part to the deterioration in the £ Sterling against the US $ and Euro and we cannot continue to absorb these increases, especially when the vessel has been operating in a very aggressive market where heavy discounting is the norm.’

Hebridean Spirit (ex Renaissance VI) joined the British operator in 2001 following a major conversion at a UK shipyard. She is believed to have been sold to a Dubai-based Arab owner for US $14m, who will convert her into a Super Yacht. Delivery is expected to take place in the Seychelles in April.

Hebridean International has now gone into administration. However, Hebridean Princess will continue to operate her summer 2009 season, says administrator Ernst & Young, while a buyer for the vessel is sought. In a statement, Ernst & Young said: ‘the administrators recognise the value of the Hebridean Princess business and have taken steps to secure funding to continue the vessel’s sailing schedule as planned.’ The administrator is believed to be negotiations with an interested party who has been granted a ‘short period of exclusivity’ to try to reach an agreement to buy the business.
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