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cruising : Industry rides a wave of nostalgia before the mega-ships of tomorrow arrive : LOOKING BACKWARD IN 1989

September 11, 1988|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH | Slater and Basch are Los Angeles free-lance writers .

Royal Viking's eagerly awaited and ultra-luxurious 740-passenger Royal Viking Sun is due to arrive in Miami in early December. After a sold-out Panama Canal cruise, it will call in San Diego Jan. 3 and Los Angeles Jan. 4 before a three-day round of christening festivities in San Francisco. Then it departs on a sold-out Inaugural World Cruise.

Passengers-to-be may mark their calendars for April 18 for the ship's transatlantic crossing from Ft. Lauderdale to Lisbon; that's the first date for which cabins are still available.

Meanwhile, a former president of Royal Viking, Warren Titus, will be welcoming his own 212-passenger Seabourn Pride, first ship for the new San Francisco-based Seabourn Cruise Line, on its scheduled Dec. 4 arrival in Ft. Lauderdale. The transcanal voyage home to San Francisco is set to arrive Dec. 19.

Prices will average about $600 a day per person, double occupancy, on this super-deluxe ship that promises the most lavish and expensive standard accommodations at sea short of Donald Trump's yacht. A second ship, Seabourn Spirit, has been ordered for delivery Nov. 10, 1989.

March 24, the date Sitmar's 1,400-passenger FairMajesty is scheduled to debut in the Caribbean, may mark the swan song for Sitmar's graceful red, white and blue swan logo, created less than a year ago. Once details of the merger are worked out, it could be replaced by the Princess logo: distinctive blue and green flowing tresses.

Splashy Debut Set

What's in a name? Carnival's 2,600-passenger, 70,000-ton "fun ship" Fantasy is scheduled for a splashy debut next fall, followed in 1990 and 1991 by sister ships Ecstasy and Sensation.

And Club Med Cruises anticipates having its 450-passenger computerized sailing ship ready in time for Christmas, 1989. A giant version of the Windstar ships, the five-masted vessel will cruise the Caribbean in winter and the Mediterranean and Red Sea in summer, with fares about $225 to $250 a day.

First of the new ships for 1989 to arrive, on Nov. 13, will be Holland America's Westerdam, the former Homeric from Home Lines. The handsome 2-year-old ship will alternate eastern and western Caribbean itineraries as well as introduce the Bonaventure Spa at Sea, a seven-day spa package that includes a deluxe outside stateroom, massages, exercise classes, spa cuisine, manicure, pedicure, facial, body treatment and beauty make-over, for $2,335 per person, double occupancy.

Holland America plans to lengthen the ship by 131 feet next year and add 195 staterooms, increasing passenger capacity to 1,500.

Exprinter Cruises' 470-passenger Berlin, registered in West Germany, is being marketed this year for the first time in the United States, with per-diem prices starting at $245 per person. The peripatetic and cosmopolitan 8-year-old ship rarely repeats an itinerary; exotic ports of call this winter include Easter and Pitcairn islands, plus the Gambiers and Tuamotus in French Polynesia, and Rarotonga. Brochures: (800) 221-1666.

Regency Cruises' new 816-passenger Regent Sun, the former Royal Odyssey, joins the fleet Dec. 4 with a series of winter cruises from Montego Bay into Gatun Lake, Costa Rica, San Blas and Cartagena.

The former Home Lines Atlantic will be reconfigured for Premier Cruise Lines, expanding capacity from 1,167 passengers to 1,600 by adding third and fourth berths in cabins. Premier's moderately priced family program, combining three- and four-day Bahamas cruises with Walt Disney World packages, has given them a quarterly occupancy rate of 123% based on a normal occupancy of two people per cabin.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Star, now sailing as the Royal Viking Star, will debut in April with New York-to-Bermuda service followed by a winter in the Caribbean.

Crown Cruise Line's 448-passenger Crown del Mar, a renovated Spanish ferry, is expected to charge around $200 a day for two- and five-night cruises from Palm Beach beginning in November.

And Ocean Quest, a new cruise company planning to specialize in year-round diving itineraries from New Orleans to Belize, Grand Cayman and Cozumel, says it is renovating the 320-passenger Sunward I in Singapore to turn it into the Ocean Spirit by the end of January. Information: (504) 586-8686.

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