Commodore Cruise Lines sinks, declares BK

Jan 2, 2001 12:34 AM

Commodore Cruise Lines, which had been running two cruise vessels to the Caribbean from New Orleans, abruptly closed its doors last week, canceling all cruises.

Commodore had been running the Enchanted Seas on seven-day cruises while the Enchanted Capri did a five-day cruise to the Caribbean and a two-day cruise to nowhere each week.

The Enchanted Capri had a larger than normal casino onboard for a vessel its size.

The casino was operated by the Isle of Capri.

The gaming product was not the problem, according to sources close to the company.

Commodore lost considerable money in an ill-fated venture, running a ship from California to Mexico in partnership with an Indian tribe. Commodore also had increased competition in its home port of New Orleans when Carnival Cruise Lines brought in a larger, more luxurious ship last Sept.

Considering the age of the Commodore vessels, it is unlikely that it will resume operations. One thing is for sure: their vessels will wind up with another company and again haul passengers to the Caribbean. It’s almost impossible to retire a cruise ship, no matter its age or condition. There’s always somebody willing to give it a go.

Mississippi gaming in seasonal swoon

As the temperatures go down in the winter months, so do casino gaming revenues in Mississippi. The November win of the state’s 30 dockside casinos hit a yearly low of $208.3 million.

Both the Gulf Coast and the river properties dipped to $86.4 million and $121.9 million, respectively.

On a brighter note, the Gulf Coast has already set a revenue record of $1.033 million in 11 months. For 12 months last year, the total was $1.029 million.

I anticipate that Mississippi will have a total gross win of about $2.7 billion for the year 2000, up about $200 million from 1999, an 8 or 9% increase.

Louisiana gaming revenues drop, too

Louisiana’s 13 riverboat casinos generated gross gaming revenues of $113 million for November, down slightly from October but in line with the seasonal dip experienced in past years.

The Shreveport/Bossier City market once again led the state’s four riverboat gaming regions with a win of $53 million. Of the four casinos in the area, Horseshoe was the state’s leader with a win just over $20 million. This figure bested the Harrah’s land-based casino in New Orleans that garnered $19.5 million in gross casino win.

The December figures will include 11 days of operation of the Hollywood Casino in Shreveport, the area’s fifth casino vessel.

The 12,634 video poker machines in bars, restaurants and truck stops produced a gross gaming win of $39.6 million, about $.5 million down from October.

Phoenix Leisure wants bigger hotel

Phoenix Leisure Inc., Las Vegas, Nev., has a lease and option to buy 30 acres of land in Hancock County, Miss., for a dockside casino. It’s trying to increase the size of its hotel.

Plans calling for a 300-room hotel were scaled back to 72 rooms. With the obvious importance of hotel rooms to the success of any casino project in Mississippi, Phoenix Leisure is working the financial markets in an attempt to raise additional capital.

One unique plan calls for Phoenix Leisure to loan $1.25 million to Cleopatra Gaming Management so Cleopatra can purchase a mini-casino in Washington state.

Phoenix Leisure feels the revenue stream from the loan will enhance its chances of getting financing from lenders and investors who view stable levels of cash flow as an important factor in making the loan.

Two years ago, Phoenix Leisure bought the Northern Belle from Hilton Gaming for $2.5 million and later bought over 700 slots from a failed riverboat. The boat remains moored at Bienville Industrial Park in Mississippi awaiting loan approval.