Asia’s newest cruise company Resorts World Cruises launched on Wednesday with a distinctly familiar feel. Its senior management and its first cruise ship all have previous ties to Genting Hong Kong.
Malaysian tycoon Lim Kok Thay, who was the majority shareholder in Genting Hong Kong at the time of its financial collapse in January, is the new company’s executive chairman and is joined by long-time cruise righthand man Colin Au, who has taken on the title of executive director.
Rounding up the top executive team is Michael Goh, another veteran Genting executive who becomes the public face of the new company in his role as president and head of international sales.
Resorts World Cruises’ first ship, the 150,700-gt Genting Dream (built 2017) is scheduled to depart from Singapore on its first voyage for the new company on 15 June, a date that coincides with school holidays in the city-state.
The 3,352-passenger ship will initially operate three short cruises each week to the high seas, although the executives are hoping that the easing of Covid restrictions in neighbouring countries will allow it to begin cruising to nearby destinations in the not-too-distant future.
The Genting Dream is being chartered from a special purpose leasing vehicle owned by four Chinese banks that bought the ship from Genting Hong Kong in January 2020 in a sale-and-leaseback deal valued at $900m.
“We appreciate the support and trust of the Chinese leasing banks in allowing Resorts World Cruises to charter the Genting Dream,” Lim said in a statement released on Wednesday.
Speculation on Lim’s cruise comeback began to emerge shortly after Genting Hong Kong called in the liquidators after suffering a sequence of financial setbacks as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Market sources predicted that the billionaire would attempt to rescue the premium Dream Cruises brand, which also operated the 150,700-gt World Dream (built 2017) that is under arrest in Singapore, and the 75,300-gt cruise ship Explorer Dream (built 1999) which is laid up off Port Klang in Malaysia.
A fourth ship, the 201,000-gt Global Dream, was in the final stages of completion at the Genting-owned MV Werften in Germany. Lim has reportedly expressed an interest in buying the ship from the shipyard’s German administrators.
In April, it emerged that Two Trees Family Holdings, a private investment vehicle for the Lim family, had incorporated Resorts World Cruises in Singapore.
Two Trees was listed as the company’s sole shareholder.
Resorts World is a well-known brand name in Asia that is used by the Lim-controlled, Kuala Lumpur-listed Genting Malaysia and Singapore-headquartered Genting Singapore for a collection of resorts and casinos in Asia, Europe and North America.
Resorts World Cruises will likely attempt next to buy the World Dream from Genting Hong Kong’s liquidators, although such a deal would require reaching an agreement with KfW IPEX-Bank to lift the arrest it has on the ship.
Resorts World Cruises said that as a “goodwill gesture” it was offering complimentary cruise credits of equivalent value for all paid passengers impacted by World Dream’s cruise cancellations in Singapore provided they had not received refunds for their original bookings.