Marios Iliopoulos looks to be sending the second of two former CMV cruiseships that he acquired at auction to India for recycling.
A sale would net the Greek shipowner a healthy profit, making him one of the very few cruiseship owners to make a profit since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Iliopoulos bought the 63,800-gt Columbus (built 1989) at a UK auction last October, paying a $5.3m for the ship. VesselsValue estimates it has a scrap value of $13.5m.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, the ship was worth an estimated $95m.
Market talk that Iliopoulos was going to scrap the Columbus has been circulating for several weeks. Brokers said that he had tried to flip the ship for further trading shortly after buying it, but found no interest from potential buyers.
The asking price was said be $14m at the beginning of February.
The Columbus departed its lay-up in Elefsina Bay near Piraeus on Monday this week, and by Thursday was anchored off Port Said waiting to transit the Suez Canal.
One cruiseship broker said the sale was not a done deal and that the ship is moving into a position that will allow it to be sold. However, other brokers are convinced that if the vessel is moving, then its sale has been concluded.
The IHS Ships Register lists the status of the vessel as “to be broken up”.
Iliopolous, who could not be reached for comment, bought two former CMV cruiseships at auction last October via Eaglepower Shipping, a company based in Cyprus
Both have proven to be profitable purchases.
In addition to the Columbus, he also acquired the 46,000-gt Magellan (built 1985) for $3.4m.
The Magellan was dispatched to the Omani port of Duqm in late December, supposedly to take up a charter as an accommodation ship. However, in January, barely a week after arriving off Duqm, it was renamed Mages and beached at Alang.
The Columbus sale leaves Iliopoulos with four cruiseships that were acquired from Carnival Corp subsidiaries.
These ships, two of which came from Holland America, and two from P&O Cruises, are newer vessels that have a stronger potential to attract trading buyers ahead of a post-coronavirus cruise resumption.
If sold, the Columbus would be the 16th cruiseship sent for scrap since the industry shutdown.