UK-based law firm Watson Farley & Williams (WFW) has advised at least two cruise ship operators on finance recently.
First, the Royal Caribbean Group ((RCL) was advised on the acquisition and financing of the luxury expedition cruise ship ‘Crystal Endeavor’ (since renamed ‘Silver Endeavour’), as part of its wholly owned subsidiary, Silversea Cruises’ fleet following an auction by Gibraltar’s Admiralty Marshall.
The vessel was formerly operated under the Crystal Cruises brand and owned by a subsidiary of Genting Hong Kong Limited, which has been declared bankrupt
WFW’s Asset and Structured Finance teams in London and New York assisted RCL with the structuring and documentation of arrangements to achieve long-term financing guaranteed by the German export credit agency Euler Hermes, while co-ordinating arrangements for the acquisition of the vessel.
London Partners, Patrick Kirkby (pictured) and Richard Dibble, advised RCL closely throughout the process. The WFW team also included New York Corporate Partner, Steve Hollander, London Finance Partner, Maren Brandes and London Dispute Resolution Partner, Charles Buss. They were supported by London Senior Associate, Konstantina Kyprianidou and Associate, Sabrina Chong.
WFW also advised long-standing client MSC Group on the signing of a memorandum of agreement for two newbuilding LNG cruise ships, to be operated under the Explora Journeys brand.
The two additional newbuildings planned – ‘Explora V’ and ‘Explora VI’ – are scheduled to come into service in 2027 and 2028, respectively and will use LNG as a main fuel, as well as green hydrogen, to bring emissions down to zero in port.
New LNG engines fitted on board the vessels will tackle the issue of methane slip and will be equipped with new environmental technologies and solutions. This includes a containment system for liquid hydrogen that will power a 6 MW fuel cell to enable the ships to switch off their engines while in port.
Meanwhile, the previously announced ‘Explora III’ and ‘IV’ will be lengthened by 19 m to enable the installation of new LNG propulsion systems. These vessels are due to enter service in 2026 and 2027, respectively.
The WFW London Maritime team advising MSC was led by Assets and Structured Finance Group Co-Head, Robert Platt supported by Associate Phil Chope.