Havila Voyages forced into further ship launch delays

Complex and time-consuming financial arrangements have been blamed by Havila Voyages for fresh delay in the launch of two new ships.

Licensing issues were previously cited by the Norwegian company in February for the cancellation of sailings by Havila Polaris while Havila Pollux was held up due to earthquakes in Turkey.

The company now says the the start-up of operations for Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux will be further delayed. 

The start date for Havila Polaris is set for June 12 while Havila Pollux is now due to commence operations on June 18.

The cruise line went to court in London before Christmas in a payment dispute with subsidiaries of Russian leasing company GTLK over the two new ships, which were being completed at the Tersan shipyard in Turkey.

Havila Voyages has now received a license from the Central Bank of Ireland to enable the financing and delivery of the ships to proceed.

The license also allows the company to settle its debts with the original lenders. 

Havila Voyages has also applied for licenses in the UK and the US, to ensure both British and American investors can participate in the financing. 

The license from Ireland, and one previously received  from the Norwegian foreign affairs ministry, ensure legal financing from EU countries and Scandinavia.

Chief executive Bent Martini admitted: “The situation we are in is very complex and demanding. The licenses are required for us to legally implement our financing solutions. 

“Despite good assistance from the Norwegian authorities the process has taken longer than we would like. Fortunately, the license from Ireland is now in place, which enables us to legally finance our ships.”

He added: “The licenses are crucial for our facilitators to be able to work freely in relevant markets for us to settle our debts to the original lender to a frozen account according to the sanction regulations and releasing the security in the vessels.

“The ships will be ready for delivery as soon as we have completed the financing process, and we apologise to all affected parties for having to postpone once again.”

The company has seen significant interest in the latest additions to the historic Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen route is reporting strong sales figures despite the uncertainty.

“We have a high volume of traffic, both to our customer centre and via our website, and had close to 70% occupancy in the first quarter, with 50% of all capacity for all four ships sold out for the year. This is ahead of what we expected for the year,” Martini said.

“For us, it will be crucial to capitalise on the interest and get all four ships in operation. We have a societal mission to deliver, and we depend on running the company in an economically sustainable way. 

“It is challenging when we constantly face setbacks and situations far beyond our control, but we look forward to soon being able to focus on delivering a top quality, modern product along the Norwegian coast in accordance with the agreement with Norwegian authorities.”

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