F&E Vessels Closer to Branding

The still unnamed cruise line that’s slated to operate the fleet of eight “yacht-like” Fearnely & Eger vessels finally began to take shape last week with the appointment of Dave Gevanthor as vice president of marketing and operations.

President Mark Conroy, who said he expected to name vice presidents of both sales and finance in the very-near-future, said the start-up cruise line planned to buy a new computer reservations system by the time Gevanthor started on Feb. 1 and would also hire a reservations manager sometime next week.

Conroy said that the new cruise company also expected to hire a staff of six full-time reservationists by next week and to open a new headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale within the next few weeks. (The company is currently in temporary office space.)

Although Fearnley & Eger had planned to announce itineraries and prices last November for its series of seven-, 10-, 14- and 21-day sailings, Conroy acknowledged that the full particulars have taken a lot longer than originally forecast and said he now hopes to issue brochures and to have the full operation in order within two months.

Conroy said that construction schedules for the entire eight-ship fleet are on time and that the new cruise line still plans to begin operations with a 4,000-ton, 100-passenger vessel on weekly Mediterranean sailings next September.

“It’s taken us a little longer than we anticipated to finalize our itineraries and to get our brochures out but we expect to have a name and an office soon and to be fully operational by April 1,” Conroy said. “I’m still very confident that we can keep the per diems down below $400 so we can position ourselves in a solid, competitive position.”

Conroy noted that it was still too early to comment on the start-up cruise line’s promotional plans and its promotional budget until final itineraries and prices are fully in place. He acknowledged that 1989 sales could be a “little soft” because of the shortened six-month lead time before operations are slated to begin and conceded that an 18-month lead time would have been more appropriate.

The former president of Commodore Cruise Line said he “really took notice” of Gevanthor when Gevanthor was executive vice president of Pearl Cruises of Scandinavia and Conroy was competing with him as vice president of sales at Royal Viking Line. Gevanthor had also worked for Royal Viking and was most recently based in Ft. Lauderd ale with Ocean Cruise Lines and sister company, Pearl Cruises.

Conroy also said that there’s a “possibility” that Fearnley & Eger could decide to add the 250-passenger Exploration Starship to the fleet of the new cruise line “sometime after 1990 because it has basically the same concept as our fleet will have.” He explained that the Starship also has a high-speed tender, small draft and large, all-outside cabins and could fit-in with the new fleet “with some minor changes.”

Conroy also noted that there was little chance that the 88-passenger North Star would ever join the new cruise company because many prospective buyers have already come forth to either purchase, lease or charter that vessel. He said that the North Star would probably either be sold or leased to another cruise operator once it’s cleared of any legal liability as a former ship in the Exploration Cruise Line fleet.

The new cruise line plans to introduce its second 100-passenger vessel in December, the third ship in April 1990, the fourth in July 1990 and the final four ships in six-month intervals through July 1992. Fearnely & Eger is building the four 4,000-ton, 100-passenger vessels and four 4,500-ton, 116-passenger yacht-like ships at a cost of about $228 million at the Cantiere Navale Ferrari shipyard in Lespezia, Italy.

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