Screenshot 2024-04-03 at 11.23.26 AM.png

Canada-based Bridgeman Services Group acquired a former cruise ship to expand its service of “floatel” accommodations and to meet growing demand from sectors such as LNG, mining, and renewable energy. The purchase of the ship best known as the Song of Flower and later Le Diamant is the second for Bridgeman in less than a year and expands to six the large vessels the company has to offer for accommodation projects.

Previous acquisitions have been European ferries, including the 2023 purchase of the Isabelle from Tallink which had been providing house for Ukrainian refugees in Scotland. However, with the purchase of the vessel most recently known as the Ocean Diamond, they are turning to retired cruise ships to increase capacity.

“MV Diamond XI is a beautiful ship that perfectly suits resource and other projects requiring premium accommodation space for up to 350 beds, catering, entertainment, and more,” said Brian Grange, President of Bridgemans. He explains the company looked to acquire a vessel to be a floatel sized to support projects in their earliest stages or to supplement accommodation at peak workforce due to strong interest from project proponents.

The cruise ship earned a reputation as a luxury vessel in the 1980s and 1990s and then went on to be a pioneer in luxury expedition cruising. Built in 1974 and operating as the Begonia, a RoRo cargo vessel, the hull was used to create a deluxe cruise ship that entered service in 1986 as the Exploration Starship (8,200 gross tons) with 124 passenger cabins and a unique large tender on the stern known as the Baby Starship. 

After Exploration Cruise Lines went out of business the ship was sold to Japanese investors who renamed her Song of Flower and later they merged the operation with a Finnish group which was operating the world’s only SWATH cruise ship and the two companies became the basis for Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, better known today as the luxury firm Regent Sea Seas Cruises.

During a fleet modernization and after 14 years the Song of Flower was sold in 2003 to Ponant. They renamed her Le Diamant as one of their first luxury ships and would run her for nearly a decade. Sold to what is today Sunstone in 2012, the ship became the Ocean Diamond operating expedition cruises to destinations including Antarctica with her last season in 2022/2023. Sunstone was looking for a buyer or charterer but the vessel was now 37 years old as a cruise ship and had a 50-year-old hull.

Bridgeman reports that the ship will be refurbished as the Diamond XI with 150 accommodation cabins. It will also feature a newly renovated dining room, a 200-seat auditorium, fitness facilities and offices with 45 workstations. Bridgeman plans to add a “grab and go” area for food, refresh the common areas, add more workspaces and meeting rooms, and install a boat lading for crew and cargo transfers. They also highlight that the vessel can be customized for specific client assignments.

Her entry into the accommodation market follows the Isabelle (34,000 gross tons) which was acquired in July 2023. Having entered service in 1989, she ran mostly for Viking Line and later Tallink in the Baltic. She was rebuilt in Estonia with 652 accommodation cabins, as well as upgrades to her dining room, lounges, meeting rooms, and the addition of workspaces, a fitness facility, and recreation areas.

The Isabelle arrived in Vancouver, Canada in January and this spring begins a contract for Woodfibre LNG to house construction workers.