For more than a decade SunStone Ships has been the largest tonnage provider to the expedition market. From the acquisition of the first two vessels in 2004, the fleet has grown to ten smaller expedition or up-scale cruise vessels, typically with capacity between 50-250 passengers operating in remote areas of the world.
If clients consider the complete package of getting a second-hand cruise vessel or a new building out to sea, with all of the operational aspects included for a number of years or seasons, then SunStone is unique. Through associated companies, Cruise Management International and CMI Leisure Management, SunStone offers a 'one-stop shop' for travel agencies, tour operators and small cruise lines who want to charter a vessel long term, or do not have the ability to operate a vessel in-house.
The company is busy upgrading its existing fleet, having spent more than $25 million in upgrades over the last few years, which among others include retrofitting of engines to become more fuel efficient and full refurbishment of interior spaces. The company does not believe that more second-hand vessels will become available in the market at the right quality and price and has therefore made the decision to start a new building programme for the Infinity-class vessels.
The company is one of the first cruise ship owners to use a Chinese shipyard to build its vessels - it has a contract for four vessels with options for an additional six vessels with China Merchants Heavy Industry. At the end of November 2018 five out of ten vessels were firm orders. SunStone is confident that all options will become firm orders within 2019. The vessels will come with unique features for outstanding design, performance and safety and will be constructed in close cooperation with well-known European manufacturers and design companies. The vessels will be some of the safest, most comfortable and efficient ships in the expedition market. SunStone will deliver the first Infinity-class vessel in August 2019.
Currently there are more than 25 expedition vessels on order for delivery between 2018 and 2023. This is the largest order book for expedition vessels ever. The existing expedition fleet has an average age of approximately 28 years and the cruise vessels being scrapped are an average of 40 years old. SunStone believes that many older ships will be taken out of the marketplace within the next five to ten years making it possible to even out the additional supply with the current and increasing future demand. Based on the difference of the order book it is further highly unlikely that these vessels will be in direct competition with the Infinity-class new buildings.
SunStone will at any time have a number of vessels available for sale or charter. Information of these along with further company details and publications can be found on the SunStone webpage.