Passengers with bookings on the revolutionary expedition yacht Scenic Eclipse will be watching anxiously this weekend to see if the Croatian yard building the luxury vessel can been saved.
Croatia Economy Minister Darko Horvat said before a cabinet meeting this week that the government expected at least two offers from strategic partners for the Uljanik Group by Friday.
“Friday will be the day during which we will receive at least two offers. We will give the opportunity to the management to open and analyse the offers on Saturday and present them to the Economy Ministry at 11 am Monday,” Horvat said,
With the launch of Scenic Eclipse just 12 weeks away, the tour and river cruise company has stepped in to employ its own workforce to complete the job as striking employees of the yard downed tools.
Yesterday, Scenic founder Glen Moroney, who has personally been overseeing the build at the yard, issued a statement and video expressing his confidence in delivering the vessel.
“As you will see, the build is progressing well with interior and exterior completion on schedule. However, the situation with Uljaniks Shipyards financial challenges remains, which has an ongoing impact on their part of the ships systems commissioning work,” he said.
“Despite the Shipyards financial challenges the quality of workmanship is exceptional and there are many pleasant surprises in store.
“The on board team recruited early last year have been working constantly, despite the delays, to ensure the on board experience will match the standard of the ship. Our two helicopters have been delivered and the submarine took its first test dive in December.
“Although this has been an extremely challenging time both Karen and I, as well as the entire Eclipse team, cannot wait till you, our guests, experience Scenic Eclipse first hand. It will be everything we’ve promised and much more. We greatly appreciate your valued support during this period and I will provide a further update by mid-February.”
Plagued by strikes and funding problems, the Uljanik Shipyard workers have been unpaid for weeks.
The $350 million vessel, the world’s first discovery yacht, has already been delayed, and passengers refunded fares.
Famed Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri and Scenic Group have both entered a data room to look over the yard’s books.
Last weekend, Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph headlined an article on the troubled yard: “Aussie sailing to the rescue of sinking yard”. The paper suggested Mr Moroney was being seen as the yard’s saviour, and local reports suggested he might order five more Eclipse-style yachts.
Asked by Cruise Passenger if Scenic was considering joining Fincantieri in a yard takeover, Mr Moroney said in a emailed response: “It’s amazing what the media print these days…let’s see what happens.”
He added: “One thing is for sure the Scenic Group will not stop building ocean ships after Eclipse enters service.”