Sunstone’s Infinity-class ships feature an X-Bow hull by Ulstein Design & Solutions
At SunStone Ships, we’ve decided to focus entirely on the fast-expanding expedition cruise market. It’s this strategy that has enabled us to become the largest tonnage provider of small cruise ships in the world. Until recently, our aim was to buy quality ships. However, availability has reduced and so we made the decision to create our own Infinity-class ships. Designed in Europe, but assembled in China, these are very proficient ships, which are quick to build and cost-effective to run.
We’ve done everything we can to create the safest, most comfortable expedition cruise vessels. Fulfilling more than just safety requirements, these ships are Ice Class 1A, Polar Code 6 vessels, built with Safe Return to Port, dynamic positioning, Rolls Royce zero-speed stabilisers and four Wärtsilä engines making them not only fuel efficient, but also as green as possible. These vessels are small enough to give an exclusive atmosphere, yet large enough to yield all the sophistication and first-class service people have come to expect from us.
Following the early delivery of Greg Mortimer in September 2019, we have the following Infinity-class newbuilds under way: Ocean Victory with delivery in October 2020, Ocean Explorer with delivery January 2021, Sylvia Earle with delivery September 2021, Ocean Odyssey with delivery March 2022, Ocean Discoverer with delivery September 2022 and Ocean Albatros with delivery October 2022. All Infinity vessels ordered have long-term charter agreements in place.
Travelling by ship opens up remote and inaccessible destinations around the world – places with little to no infrastructure that even the most intrepid independent traveller would struggle to reach. These places are not accessible by plane or car – even larger ships can’t reach them. These parts of the world can only be seen on a small ship. The Infinity series can access all these captivating areas, providing new possibilities for travel agencies and tour operators to offer new unseen destinations.
In the growing expedition market, many newbuilds will be upscale and luxurious. These newbuilds will signal a shift in the current industry, creating a niche market that does not exist today. This new sector creates a new passenger profile, increasing the market for everyone. This is a positive for SunStone: its Infinity-class vessels are a purer expedition cruise product.
That’s not to say that everything will be easy. There could be some pressure in the marketplace in 2021-2023, when several new vessels will enter the market before enough of the existing ships have been scrapped. Smaller operators, who are not financially strong, may feel the pressure of having to lower prices for a period.
I feel that SunStone is able to go from strength to strength in turbulent times. We are a one-stop shop for tour operators and travel agencies who can come to us for anything they need, bar the passengers. They don’t even need to have any shipping experience; they just have to say where to go and what they would like to experience, and we will do the rest. This includes itineraries, menu creation, customised services and adventures.
SunStone prides itself on offering a seamless product. We have the prestige, knowledge and size to create the ideal cruise experience, leaving only the marketing and passenger affairs to the tour operators and travel agencies.
Niels-Erik Lund is president and CEO at SunStone Ships
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
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