Corinthian seen berthed in Amsterdam opposite of the Passenger Terminal at the 10th of september 2015. At the terminal itself, AIDAbella and MSC Splendida kept the small ship from berthing there...
When Fearnley & Eger formed the company Renaissance Cruises in 1989, the start was very optimistic. The company was to sail highrated small-ship cruises and visit destinations that could not be visited by the larger ships. For this, they ordered a series of eight cruiseyaughts in two sets of four. Sadly, Renaissance Cruises was no company that was very inventive in naming ships. The first four were named Renaissance I up to Renaissance IV and measured 4077 tons. They had capacity for 100 passengers, 72 crewmembers and a lenght of 88,30 meters. The second class of four continued the naming style and were put into service as Renaissance V up to Renaissance IIX. They were slightly larger, measuring 4200 tons. Their capacity in passengers was increased to 114, although the crewnumber stayed 72. The ships were also a little longer then the first four, measuring 90,60 meters. The most visible change was certainly the funnel. On the first set of four, the funnel was winged and at the second set of four was a single stack, slightly turned backwards for smoke deflection. Another difference is, that on the first four ships there is an outdoor promenade and at the second set this is made part of the ships interiours to create more space inside. Of the second set, two ships are already here at the site, Quark Expeditions Sea Spirit, built as Renaissance V and the Hebridean Spirit, built as Renaissance VI. The latter is now is named Caledonian Sky and sails for Noble Caledonia.
Corinthian was part of the first group of four and she was built as Renaissance IV, the last of those. She was built under yardnumber 46 at the Cantieri Navale Ferrari-Signani wharf in La Spezia, Italy and driven by two 12-cylinder diesel engines that were designed by MAN-B&W. She was able to cruise at a modest 15 knots. She was launched in march of 1990 and started sailings under the Italian flag, homeported at Palermo.This was altered in 1994, when she started sailing under Liberian colours, homeported at Monrovia. Her sisters were also built at the same yard and were named Renaissance I, that is now sailing as a private yaught under the name Dubawi, Renaissance II, now laid-up but formerly known as EasyCruise One and Renaissance III, that is sailing for Silversea Cruises since 2013 as their Silver Galapagos. Two of her close sister of the second set I already meantioned and to be complete, the Renaissance VII is now sailing as Hebridean Sky for Noble Caledonia and last but not least, the former Renaissance VIII is now named Island Sky, also for Noble Caledonia. So most of them ended up as expedition cruiseships and for this, they are the right size. But do not forget that this was not the same as the origianl Renaissance Cruises, that has never been an expedition-style cruiseline.
The ships iconic winged funnel was the point of recognition between the first four and the latter four ships of Renaissance Cruises. The second group of four lacked this funnel.
The main reason for the company to have all ships built in Italy, as the second four were built at the Nuovi Cantieri Apunia wharf at Carrera, was the huge subsidies they recieved from the Italian government so the Italian shipbuildingindustry could maintain its workforce. As we all know, this helped a lot as Italian shipbuilding rose explosively throughout the 1990's. Since their debut, the ship and her sisters sailed glamorous cruises in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, South Pacific and northern Europe in so-called 'affordable luxury'.
For a decade or so, the eight ships were sailing quite happily in the small-ship cruiseindustry and offered an experience close to that of the Sea Goddess-es, that were operated by Cunard Line at the time. But Renaissance Cruises wanted more and ordered a series of again eight ships, much larger then their original ones, measuring more then 30.000 tons. They were to replace the smaller ships and in doing so, the company had to re-think their position as they lost the small-ship destinations and passengers who were choosing for Renaissance Cruises because of the intimite sizes. The first of the new ships entered in 1998 under again an inventive name, R1. Meanwhile, the original ships were phased out of the fleet and chartered or sold to other operators. And here is when Renaissance made the wrong decision. In rapid succession, the eight small ships were replaced and the cost of this, next to the loss of the original passengers, caused the company to get in true financial difficulties. Next to that, in 2001, the world changed to grey when in september the terrorattacks on New York and Washington caused a devastating blow in world travels, especially in the luxury part. The following war against terror and financial crisis did the rest for many businesses, but for Renaissance Cruises this even came too late as the company was declared bankrupt in the end of 2001.
All ships of the line were laid up and it took a while before most of them found a new home, mostly due to the uncertaincy that there was in those years for the travel-industry. But all of the ships did find new homes, eventually. Renaissance IV was at that moment already sold, as she had left the fleet already in 1996, when she was sold to Greenwich Shipmanagement & Brokerage, homeported in the Bahama's. She was rebuilt slightly and re-named Clelia II, firstly as a Greek private yaught for Loucas Haji-Ioannou, but she was also chartered out to several cruiselines on charter basis, including Golden Sea Cruises, Travel Dynamics and Lindos Maritime. In november of 2008, the ship started to sail under the flag of Malta, homeported in Valletta. One year later, in 2009, the ship was re-inforced with an ice-strenghtened hull so she was also able to sail in Antarctic waters too.
From that moment on, the ship was re-named Orion II and mainly used for Orion Expeditions, mostly sailing the Pacific untill 2011, when the ship was bought by one of her former charterers, Travel Dynamics and again got a new and present name, Corinthian. For them, she was mostly seen in Europe, along the African coast and in Antarctic waters. At the end of march of 2014, the Corinthian was bought by Grand Circle Corporation, a travelcompany with experience in small oceangoing cruises in the Mediterranean, especially catered to solo travellers, and also the owner of a fleet of rivercruiseships. The company is really dedicated to enrichment next to just holidays, as they offer the passengers very personal contacts with people living in the regions visited. This is created with offering visits to homes, schools and markets locally. She now only sails with 98 passengers and for those, she offers 49 outside-facing suites in semi-luxury style. Aboard, there is a restaurant, two lounges (one of them offering panoramic views) and of course a well-stuffed library. Next to this, Grand Circle is also known for hiring skilled program directors that can really inform the passengers about the regions the ship is sailing at a high level.
Throughout 2014, the ship was still sailing her cruises for Travel Dynamics, being added to the fleet of Grand Circle Cruise Line from the 2015 season onwards, starting with a series of Antarctic cruises in the fall. Travel Dynamics and Grand Circle also entered into a long-term agreement, where-in Grand Circle will offer space aboard its ships for the educational programs offered by Travel Dynamics.