Genting HK’s World Dream Sold to Cruise Saudi and Renamed Manara
The last cruise ship from the former Genting Hong Kong operation, Dream Cruises’ World Dream, has been sold in Singapore. The vessel was renamed Manara today while still in the Singapore anchorage and re-registered with a new homeport of Majuro, Marshall Islands, while Cruise Saudi confirmed that it has acquired the ship.
Singapore’s High Court listed the cruise ship among the assets sold as of February 24, with a court notice dated March 3 confirming the sale with proceeds to the court of $330 million. The World Dream came under the control of the Singapore court in May 2022 as the liquidators worked to resolve the bankruptcy of Genting Hong Kong. The ship was arrested by KfW IPEX-Bank in March 2022 as the financial institution that had financed the construction of the ship in Germany for Genting HK.
The ship had failed to receive a winning bid at a December auction conducted by the sheriff of Singapore with most observers believing the bank was blocking low-priced offers.
“The ship has been renamed to reflect its new ownership and will now undergo a refit,” said Lars Clasen, CEO of Cruise Saudi. He said plans for the new ship will be announced in due time. Observers noted that Al Manara is also the name of a luxury hotel in Aqaba, Jordan.
Built in 2017 by Meyer Werft, the 150,700 gross ton World Dream was largely based on a design developed for Norwegian Cruise Line. Genting Hong Kong had taken control of Norwegian as an investor in 1999 starting a revitalization of the U.S.-cruise brand building a series of ships at Meyer Werft. Norwegian introduced the Norwegian Breakaway in 2013 and a sister ship the Norwegian Getaway in 2014. Genting Hong Kong ordered two nearly identical ships named Genting Dream and World Dream which were used in 2016 and 2017 in Asia to launch the company’s new brand Dream Cruises.
The cruise line suspended operations early in 2022 after the financial collapse of Genting Hong Kong. The World Dream was placed in a warm lay-up and being maintained in the Singapore anchorage. A survey ordered by the court in October 2022 indicated that she was in excellent condition and ready to resume operations.
Cruise Saudi, which is backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund as a shareholder, was launched to promote and grow the cruise and tourism industry in Saudi Arabia. Clasen said that the acquisition of the cruise ship is part of the company’s strategy and direction to build and develop the industry. Recently, Cruise Saudi also announced a joint venture with the luxury hotel and resort Aman Group to build a yacht cruise ship in Italy. Saudi Arabia has said that it is targeting having five cruise ports operating in the country and surpassing one million cruise passengers by 2028.
Speculation had centered on Resorts World Cruises, which was launched in June 2022 by Malaysian businessman Tan Sri KT Lim, the founder of Genting, as the likely buyer for the World Dream. The new cruise line is the successor to Dream Cruises including chartering the sister ship Genting Dream, which Genting HK had previously sold to an investment group of Chinese banks. Resorts World Cruises however recently added a second ship chartering the former Explorer Dream which had also been operated by Dream Cruises.
The sale of the World Dream completes the vessel dispositions with the ships from sister cruise line Star Cruises sold for scrap, except for a smaller ship which will be operated by a charity. The ocean cruise ships and the Crystal Cruises band were sold to new investors, while a German start-up acquired the river cruise ships. The new build Global Dream was sold to Disney Cruise Line which plans to introduce it in 2025 while the blocks that were to have been used to build Global Dream II were sold for scrap.