Star Cruises, one of NCL's two parent companies, has sold the ships to Cyprus- based Louis Cruise Lines. That company noted in a press release today that "the purchase of these two cruise ships constitutes the most important renewal and upgrading of the Louis Cruise Lines fleet in its twenty-two year old history and at the same time it further enhances the company's leading position in the Eastern Mediterranean cruise market."
It's worthy to note, however, that Louis, which markets its ships and Eastern Mediterranean-oriented trips to passengers all over the world, has been short a vessel ever since its Sea Diamond struck a reef off of Santorini last year and sank. Passengers were evacuated and all but two survived.
Louis, which was founded in 1986, is the world's fifth largest cruise line.
For NCL, the news comes after a recent rumor, which had industry insiders buzzing about the possible sale of the two ships to Louis -- and a third, Pride of Aloha, to Spain's Pullmantur. Pride of Aloha is leaving the Hawaii market in May. There's still no definitive word on whether Pride of Aloha will return to owner Star Cruises -- or be acquired by Pullmantur.
Our report last Friday notes NCL is accepting bookings for cruises on Norwegian Dream through October 2008 and Norwegian Majesty through October 2009. Norwegian Dream will finish up its NCL tenure by sailing Boston-based trips to Bermuda and Canada/New England. On Norwegian Majesty's schedule are Charleston- and Philadelphia-based voyages to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Bermuda and Canada/New England.
The 40,876-ton, 1,462-passenger Norwegian Majesty and the 48,000-ton, 1,754-passenger Norwegian Dream were both launched in 1992.
Upon these departures, NCL, which is aiming to create the world's most up-to-date (and freshly minted) fleet of cruise ships, is even closer to its goal. Its oldest ship will become the Norwegian Spirit, which launched in 1998 as the SuperStar Leo for Star Cruises' fleet and became an NCL ship in 2004.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief