Monday, August 31, 2009

Australis orders third expedition vessel

The Chilean cruise company Cruceros Australis which operates from Punta Arenas is having a third vessel built in Valdivia which should be operational for the 2010/2011 season, according to Branco Ivelic, manager of Cruise Operations.

Stella Australis will join the Mare Australis and Via Australis “sometime in October, November next year on time for the celebrations of Chile’s bicentenary”, said Ivelic in an interview with La Prensa Austral.

Ivelic said the company has been in business since 1990 mainly with “expedition cruises”, when “nobody in the region was thinking of developing this option. We continue on the same line and we are planning long term, that is why the new vessel”.

“Stella Australis” does not come cheap for a Chilean regional expedition cruise company: 23 million US dollars for a vessel 89 metre long and 14 wide with capacity for 210 passengers and 60 crew members. Although of similar shape, the new Australis is far more efficient (the current vessels carry 136 passengers), with an improved display of cabins and more amenities.

Ivelic said the company is investing in spite of the fact that the last season “we felt the impact of the world recession and something similar we expect this year since 90% of our clients are foreigners”.

“We expect a trade contraction of possibly 20% less passengers, but sooner or later the crisis will be over. We believe this will begin to be seen in the second half of next year, and regional tourism will again begin to grow, the attraction and potential of the Patagonia region is immense”, underlined Iveli.

Source: MercoPress

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