September 16 2004
Royal Caribbean switches remaining Norwegian-flag ships to Bahamas
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., says that "after a year of discussion with union representatives, Norwegian government officials and its own employees," it will transfer the registry of six Royal Caribbean International ships from Norway to the Bahamas.
The transfer of registry for Enchantment of the Seas, Splendour of the Seas, Majesty of the Seas, Monarch of the Seas, Rhapsody of the Seas and Sovereign of the Seas to the Bahamian registry is scheduled to occur by early 2005. Royal Caribbean's other 13 ships are already registered in the Bahamas, as are the nine ships of its sister brand, Celebrity Cruises.
The move will affect about 400 Royal Caribbean shipboard employees covered by collective bargaining agreements required by the Norwegian International Ship Registry. Royal Caribbean says it plans to keep compensation levels for those employees at or above their current levels during a two-year transition period set to end in January 2007.
Royal Caribbean says that having ships registered in two countries has required the company to operate under different sets of standards involving marine operations, hiring, compensation and benefits, medical certification and other issues. Operating under a single flag will thus result in a more streamlined management process=.
"Since the day our company was founded, we have been proud of our strong ties to Norway, and transferring the registry of six ships will not change that fact," said Royal Caribbean Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Richard Fain. "However, the competitive nature of the cruise industry is intense, and we must ensure our competitiveness throughout the business."
Should registration with Norway again become competitive, Royal Caribbean will revisit the flagging issue, company officials said.
Royal Caribbean International says it "will continue to use the Norwegian classification society Det Norske Veritas, which issues certificates for all 19 vessels in the brand's fleet and performs many related services on an ongoing basis that are critical to its operations."