Sanctions Impact Bookings for Tradewind Voyages' Barque
The recently formed sailing cruise line Tradewind Voyages has announced that it is suspending new bookings and may have to cancel voyages because of sanctions-related disruption to its financing.
The line's owner, DIV Group, has a financing relationship with the German division of VTB Bank. The Russian state-owned banker has been hit hard by European and U.S. sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine. Among other things, this means that VTB's German subsidiary has been cut off from its Russian parent company: German financial regulator BaFin has ruled that VTB's Moscow headquarters can no longer give the German branch instructions or access its assets due to EU sanctions.
DIV Group, the owner of Tradewind Voyages, says that it is currently "taking financial advice" and exploring options. In the meantime, Tradewind has paused voyage sales and it cautioned that "voyage cancellations are expected." All customer deposits for bookings are secure, however, and are stored in a trust fund.
"While we have been working with VTB Germany, its headquarters are based in Russian where the bank has been sanctioned because of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia," said CEO Alan McGrory. "DIV Group continues to explore every option to rectify the issue. The decision to pause sale on voyages is a difficult one, but the right thing to do currently."
Tradewind Voyages' sole vessel, the gigantic square-rigger Golden Horizon, was scheduled to sail in the Mediterranean through October 2022 and the Caribbean for the 2022-23 winter season.
Golden Horizon is a new five-masted barque built by Brodosplit Shipyard for Star Clippers. After a series of complex disputes over the vessel's construction and financing, Star Clippers dropped out of the project, and Brodosplit completed the vessel on its own. The shipyard then leased her to newly-formed Tradewind Voyages, which began commercial operations in May 2021.