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Havila Completes Refinancing and Schedules Delivery of Delayed Ships

Havila Norwegian cruise ships
Havila has ownership of its first two ships and is set to take delivery of the delayed ships (Havila)

Published Jul 31, 2023 1:53 PM by The Maritime Executive

Update: After this article was written, Havila confirmed on August 1 that it took delivery of the Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux. The company now owns all four of its costal cruise ships ending its relationship with lender GTLK.

 

Norway’s Havila Kystruten reports after 15 months the company has finally been able to resolve the consequences of the financial sanctions placed on Russian institutions. The company completed its refinancing and has now set a date for the delivery of its two delayed coastal cruise ships.

The company, which launched operations between Bergen and Kirkenes, Norway in 2022, was building four 15,500 gross ton vessels at Turkey’s Tersan shipyard. In a common practice in the shipping industry, the vessels were financed by GTLK, a Russian lender, that was to own the vessels and charter them to Havila. However, after the imposition of the sanctions the company was prevented from making payments to GTLK or taking ownership of the vessels and forced to seek relief through the courts.

The shareholders of Havila Kystruten and private equity investors completed a refinancing of the company last week. With the agreement of the courts in the UK and Ireland, Havila is placing funds into blocked accounts to take ownership of the vessels and GTLK will have access to the accounts when the sanctions are lifted.

The company reported today that is it now the legal owner of the coastal vessels Havila Capella and Havila Castor, completely free from any ties to the sanctioned and former lender.

"Having completed the refinancing and now owning both Havila Capella and Havila Castor without any ties to the sanctioned and former lender is a significant day for Havila Voyages," says Bent Martini, CEO of the company.

Martini is now in Turkey working out the final details for the delivery of the company’s other two vessels, Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux, which have been completed at the Tersan shipyard. The third cruise ship, the Havila Polaris, was ready for delivery in December 2022, but the company was forced to delay delivery due to the issues related to the sanctions. The first four cruises of the ship were initially canceled and since then they have been forced to push back the state date for both of the ships several times.

"We had hoped to take delivery of our last two ships this week and have the crew ready to bring both ships home here. It has been time-consuming to settle the termination amounts, but now that we have accomplished it, we can take delivery of Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux early next week," said Martini.

Havila expects its crews will take possession and board both ships “at the beginning of next week.” The ships will undergo final checks, and then depart for Bergen. Depending on the weather conditions encountered during the voyage, it will take 10 to 12 days for the ships to reach Norway.

The timing however has meant that Havila is again delaying the maiden voyage of the Havila Pollux from August 12th to August 23rd. Havila Polaris will start service on August 17th as previously announced. The first two ships, Havila Capella and Havila Castor, were sailing the coastal service for over a year while the company worked to resolve the refinancing and transfer of ownership.

The four ships have been recognized as among the most advanced in the cruise industry. They are fueled by LNG and have large-capacity batteries. The company has said it intends to begin transitioning to biogas as the first step in reaching net zero. The company’s goal is to be carbon-neutral by 2028 and after that, it will switch to emission-free fuel alternatives such as hydrogen, with the goal of zero emissions by 2030 with these four ships.