Japan’s Mitsui OSK Lines has tapped a cruise industry veteran to advise on its plans to expand its cruise ship offerings.
Anthony Kaufman, who spent close to 30 years at Princess Cruises, was named as senior executive advisor to Mitsui OSK Passenger Line (MOPAS).
MOL said Kaufman has “extensive knowledge and expertise” in the cruise ship business in the US, the hub of the cruise ship industry.
“Kaufman has held key positions with Carnival, Holland America Group and Princess Cruises, where he played a major role in the development of the inbound and outbound markets in Japan,” MOL said.
News of the appointment came as MOL confirmed its acquisition of the 450-berth Seabourn Odyssey (built 2009) from Carnival subsidiary Seabourn.
While neither side would disclose the vessel’s sale price, valuation platform VesselsValue put the estimated market value of the ship at $115m.
The vessel was immediately chartered back to Seabourn for a year and a half and will start its service and operation under MOPAS by the end of 2024.
MOL has positioned the cruise ship business as a new growth area and announced the construction of two 600-passenger newbuildings in November 2022 at a total cost of ¥100bn ($722m) to expand the business.
“The purchase of the new vessel marks an advance move into an expanded cruise business, ahead of the launch of these two new vessels,” MOL said on Friday.
“The group aims to develop a high-quality international service based on a new concept that will enrich people’s lives and celebrate the culture of Japan.
“The decision to purchase the Seabourn Odyssey is key to accelerating our plans by purchasing the most suitable vessel for this purpose,” MOL added.
The Seabourn Odyssey is only MOL’s second cruise ship and joins its existing passenger vessel, the 607-berth Nippon Maru (built 1990), in the MOPAS fleet.
With two cruise ships, MOL said it will be able to offer a service lineup that meets a “wider range of customer needs”.
“By increasing the number of cruise ships operated by MOPAS to two, they will be able to significantly increase the number of departures and arrivals in various parts of Japan and globally, and will be able to provide a wider variety of itineraries and experiences,” MOL said.
MOL said the vessel, which will operate in waters in and around Japan, will undergo renovations, before entering service by the end of 2024.
MOPAS is expected to announce the vessel’s new name, cruise packages and prices by the summer of 2023, the shipowner said.