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Cruise Views

Four New Lines Set Sail for 'Niche' Markets

October 03, 1993|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH | Slater and Basch travel as guests of the cruise lines. Cruise Views appears the first and third week of every month.

Orient, in contrast, offers a mid-sized ship with prices starting at $179 a day per person, double occupancy, and one that "can offer all the facilities of the big ships with prices attractive to the middle-class market" on cruises to exotic destinations, from the Antarctic to the Amazon.

The Marco Polo was once the Russian Arctic cruise ship Alexandr Pushkin--but, said Natansohn, it has been extensively renovated and is "virtually a new ship."

Cabins are attractively decorated in natural woods and Art Deco fabrics and have dressing tables, large closets, TVs, telephones and hair dryers. Tiered seating in the show lounge, a piano bar with white baby grand and two restaurants, one of them a handsome two-level Art Deco dining room with Tiffany-style ceilings, are among the public rooms aboard. Menus will be designed by California chef Wolfgang Puck.

The Marco Polo's inaugural is set for Oct. 30, from Piraeus to Mombasa, followed by a cruise to southern Africa, then a series of Antarctic sailings led by Lars-Eric Lindblad and other notable naturalists and explorers, each limited to 400 passengers.

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Silversea Cruises' ultra-deluxe 296-passenger Silver Cloud, a new ship built in Italy, is due to sail April 2 on its inaugural from Civitavecchia, the port of Rome, to the Greek Islands. After a series of sailings there, it will head north to the Baltic, then to the British Isles. Silversea is owned by a partnership of the Vlasov Group of Monaco and the Francesco Lefebvre family of Rome, former co-owners of the now-defunct Sitmar Cruises.

"We think we can do it better than competing ultra-deluxe lines," said Silversea President John Bland, former president of Sitmar. "First, we have a different ship design. It's larger, very seaworthy and very comfortable for ocean crossings--but small enough to do the things you want a small luxury vessel to do, to get into small islands where big ships can't go, to travel up rivers like the Thames."

Fares aboard the Silver Cloud will start at $3,395 per person, double occupancy, for cruise-only tickets, $4,195 for full air/sea packages for seven-day sailings. Prices include beverages and tips, and the air/sea program also covers travel and emergency medical insurance.

A sister ship, Silver Wind, is due to debut in March, 1995.

"It's inevitable that as the main part of the cruise industry grows and ships get larger, the opportunities arise to do something different, to create new niches," says Bland.

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