Royal Caribbean sells share of Island Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has agreed to sell its 50% interest in Island Cruises to First Choice Holidays, a subsidiary of U.K.-based tour operator TUI Travel PLC.

First Choice now owns 100% of Island Cruises, a cruise line that offers Mediterranean, transatlantic and Caribbean itineraries.

As part of the transaction, RCCL and TUI agreed to an early termination of the charter of Island Star, one of two ships in the Island Cruises fleet. RCCL owns the Island Star and had chartered it to Island Cruises. In April, RCCL plans to redeploy the Island Star to Pullmantur Cruises, its Spanish brand.

"We believe by focusing on developing and expanding the Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises brands in the U.K., we will be better able to serve our customers and create value for our shareholders," said Richard Fain, RCCL's chairman and CEO. "This belief has been strengthened by the success of the inaugural season of Independence of the Seas, which has served the U.K. market from Southampton since it entered service in May 2008."

The transaction is subject to regulatory approval in Ireland. RCCL said it would recognize a small gain on the sale of its interest in Island Cruises and the early termination of the Island Star charter.

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