Cruise Holdings Buys Seawind, Dolphin Lines

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MIAMI -- Cruise Holdings acquired control of Seawind Cruise Line and Dolphin Cruise Line and is seeking to buy more vintage ships, the company said.

Seawind markets one vessel, the Seawind Crown. Dolphin has three ships, the OceanBreeze, SeaBreeze and Island Breeze.

Cruise Holdings said both lines will continue to be run as separate brands and companies, but some operating resources will be combined for economies of scale.

All current bookings will remain in force as will tariffs, brochures and marketing activities, Cruise Holdings said.

Norwegian investor Kristian Stensby, chairman of Cruise Holdings and a top financial officer in Kloster Cruise from 1987 to 1990, said his company wants to acquire some of the vintage tonnage available in the wake of the growing dominance of new mega-ships.

"Our vision," he said, "is to acquire high-quality classic ships that reflect the graciousness of traditional cruising experiences, spacious configurations and unique destination- oriented itineraries.

"The capacity of our ships ranges from 730 to 1,100 passengers, which allows us to provide a superior, personalized vacation experience at a competitive price."

Stensby announced the appointment of Larry Magnan, former president and chief executive officer of Westin Hotels and Resorts, as president and chief executive officer of Cruise Holdings.

A Cruise Holdings subsidiary, Cruise Operations Ltd., operates the four ships as well as three other cruise liners.

Cruise Holdings, which previously held a minority interest in Seawind, acquired control of that company while buying the outstanding shares in Dolphin, owned by Capt. Paris Katsoufis, the founder of that line and its president.

Katsoufis, who said that he will continue as president of Dolphin, also is president of the two-ship Majesty Cruise Line.

That company was not included in the deal for Dolphin, he said.

The executive said the acquisition of Dolphin by Cruise Holdings is the "first step towards consolidating this segment of the cruise market."

"The result will be a stronger and more competitive company able to continue expansion," he said.

Katsoufis said he will continue to run Dolphin from its headquarters in the Port of Miami, including Dolphin's 20-person field sales force.

Dick Knott, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Seawind, said his company will retain autonomy in sales and marketing.

Both Dolphin and Seawind offer tariffs considered to be in the economy sector of the market, although the companies have long insisted they offer amenities and services above those of competing mass-market lines.

Katsoufis founded Dolphin in 1984 by taking over the marketing of the Dolphin IV from Paquet Cruises.

The line's OceanBreeze sails from Port Everglades on three- and four-night cruises in the winter and, starting in June, on five-night cruises to Canada from New York.

The SeaBreeze sails on seven-night eastern and western Caribbean cruises.

The IslandBreeze, the former Festivale, was acquired form Carnival Cruise Line under a lease-purchase agreement, sails on seven-night Panama Canal cruises.

Seawind was launched in 1988 to operated the former Vasco da Gama on unique itineraries from Aruba.

The vessel, which underwent $44 million of renovations as the Seawind Crown, is marketed in conjunction with Aruba hotel stays.

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