Singapore-based New Century Cruise Lines has permanently retired two of the Asian cruise market’s oldest and longest-serving ships.

The vessels will join the growing list of cruiseships heading to Alang for recycling in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asian cruise sources said it is interested in taking advantage of record-low cruiseship asset values to acquire a newer, larger replacement vessel.

New Century Group, the cruise operator’s Hong Kong-listed parent company, revealed via an exchange statement that it has sold the 15,700-gt cruiseship Leisure World (built 1969) to cash buyer NKD Maritime for $3.59m.

New Century Group, which charters its ships to New Century Cruise Lines for short gambling-orientated cruises from Singapore and Malaysia, said it would record a gain of about HKD 6.37m ($820,000) on the sale of the vessel, based on its book value of HKD 21.3m.

The Leisure World, which was built as Norwegian Cruise Line’s Skyward and sold to New Century Group in 1995, has been sitting out the pandemic in the Malaysian port of Penang. It is expected to be delivered to NKD in mid to late May.

Second sale

Jackston Maritime’s 12,800-gt Amusement World will be joining the Leisure World for recycling at Alang. Photo: Jonathan Boonzaier

Jackston Maritime’s 12,800-gt Amusement World (built 1967) will also cease to operate for New Century Cruise Lines with immediate effect. Recycling sources told TradeWinds that it too has been sold for scrap and will depart its current anchorage close to Singapore at around the same time as the Leisure World.

New Century Group, via Jackston, bought the Amusement World from Stena for $5.7m in 1997, when it was the Lion Queen.

Originally a ropax, it was subsequently given an extensive conversion into a full cruiseship with a giant casino built into what was previously the vehicle deck.

Controlling interest in Jackston was sold by New Century Group to a private entity firm in 2018, although the ship continued to operate for New Century Cruise Lines.

Commenting on the disposal of the Leisure World, New Century Group said the pandemic had severely affected the operations of its cruiseships, which have been unable to generate charter revenue while at the same time continue to incur maintenance costs.

The company said: “As it is unclear when the cruiseship operation will be resumed, the board is of the view that the disposal releases the group from incurring further cash outflow and loss for the maintenance of the vessel.

“Facing a lack of passengers in the Covid-19 pandemic and seeking for measures to trim down operational costs, there is an increase in the number of cruiseships retired and scrapped.”

The company added that coupled with strong scrap steel prices, it took the view that disposing of the vessel was a suitable way to realise its investment in an uncertain market environment.

The sale of the Leisure World leaves New Century Group with only the 23,300-gt Aegean Paradise (built 1990), which was acquired from Greek shipowner Victor Restis for $22m in 2015.

However, cruiseship brokers have reported that the company has been scouting around for suitable replacement tonnage, and with its two oldest ships sold, could soon make an acquisition move.