SunStone Ships provides a full management service to the ever-growing expedition cruise market
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
SunStone Ships manages a fleet of 10 vessels, which make expedition cruises to some of the most remote parts of the world. Its ships, which carry between 60 and 250 passengers, are chartered by operators in the expedition cruise market, heading to places such as the Antarctic, Arctic Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Spitzbergen, Franz Josef Land, as well as warm water areas such as South America, South Pacific, Micronesia and Polynesia.
Formed in 2012, SunStone Ships is an off-shoot from passenger ship management company International Shipping Partners (ISP), set up to take over the commercial management of passenger ships – a function previously handled by ISP. With its fleet of 10 vessels, today, the company is the largest provider to the expedition shipping market, in terms of tonnage, and represents the vessels’ investors as well as taking responsibility for the buying, selling and chartering of the fleet.
The company is capable of handling the commercial management of any passenger vessel, but specialises in the expedition cruise market – a niche where very few management companies operate.
In the last year, several of SunStone’s ships underwent major upgrades. Highlights include Ocean Diamond, which had one of its cabin decks completely renovated, and Sea Spirit, where the restaurant and main lounge were completely upgraded. In 2017, Sea Adventurer will be re-engineered with new main and auxiliary engines, propellers and automation systems.
Recent commercial developments for the company include an extension to the charter of Ocean Endeavour to Quark Expeditions; the signing of a new long-term contract for Ocean Adventurer with Quark Expeditions; and the renaming of Saint Laurent to Victory I as part of a long-term time charter to Victory Cruise Lines. From autumn 2017, the company’s vessel Ocean Atlantic, which has been chartered to Copenhagen-based operator Albatros Travel, will also begin expeditions in the polar regions.
SunStone has a very close working relationship with Cruise Management International (CMI), one of the leading passenger ship managers in the world, who manages most of the SunStone fleet from a technical standpoint. The company also works with CMI Leisure (formerly known as ISP Leisure), a hotel management company in Miami, Florida responsible for hotel operations on several vessels in the SunStone fleet.
In addition to acquiring second-hand vessels on behalf of investors, over the last few years SunStone has also been working on developing a newbuilding program. A result of this is the construction of a 150 to 200-passenger expedition cruise vessel, which meets the 1A ice classification and all new SOLAS regulations, including Safe Return to Port, as well as offering a number of new features in the expedition cruise market. With only around 35 to 40 expedition vessels in operation globally – most of which have an average age of more than 25 years – SunStone is filling an important gap in this growing market.