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Cruise Views

New Ships to Break Bottles On

December 25, 1994|SHIRLEY SLATER and HARRY BASCH

Nine new ships are due to arrive in 1995, beginning with American Canadian Caribbean Line's 84-passenger Niagara Prince, introducing cruises around Panama beginning Jan. 27. Silversea's second deluxe, all-inclusive ship, the 296-passenger Silver Wind, is scheduled to debut Jan. 29 in Mombasa, Kenya, with a series of Indian Ocean sailings. April will see the arrival of P&O's 1,975-passenger Oriana from the London-based parent of Princess Cruises.

The 960-passenger Crystal Symphony, a second ship for Los Angeles-based Crystal Cruises, is sailing from New York to Los Angeles on a long inaugural itinerary departing May 4. Royal Caribbean Cruise Line's 1,808-passenger Legend of the Seas, the fastest major cruise ship built in the last 25 years (topping at 24 knots, or almost 28 m.p.h.), is due to debut May 16 with a sailing from Miami to Los Angeles.

Delta Queen Steamboat Co.'s 420-passenger American Queen, the biggest American river paddle-wheeler, will enter service June 27 on the Mississippi. Carnival's 2,040-passenger Imagination, fifth in the flashy series that began with the neon-throbbing Fantasy in 1990, is due July 8 in Miami. Fort Lauderdale will see the arrival of Princess Cruises' 1,950-passenger Sun Princess Dec. 16, 1995. And on Dec. 20, 1995, Celebrity Cruises' 1,750-passenger Century, fourth in that fleet, will sail its inaugural itinerary from New York to Fort Lauderdale.

The rapidly growing American cruise market is expected to reach 8 million passengers a year by 2000, nearly double the present 4.5 million, according to Cruise Lines International Assn. Look for the following trends in 1995:

* Good deals in pre- and post-cruise packages. * More truth in cruise advertising. Gone are the days when anything that floated was termed "a luxury cruise ship." * Fewer niche cruise lines in the near future. Overspecialized lines had a bad year in 1994, with both child-oriented American Family Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line's Latin-themed FiestaMarina Cruises going out of business. * More strenuous attention paid to cruise ship inspections. * The gradual departure of older ships as new Safety of Life at Sea regulations begin in 1995.

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