Imperial Majesty Cruises plans to boost presence in Bahamas

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Two-year old Imperial Majesty Cruise Line, whose niche is two-night cruises from here to Nassau, Bahamas, plans to enter a second vessel in the market by February.

Company president Arthur Pollack said the line is close to making a decision on the vessel.

Imperial Majesty refurbished its only ship, the 21,000-ton OceanBreeze, in September while also increasing the vessel's capacity from 936 to 984 passengers.

"The two-night program has turned out to be very popular," said Pollack, a former director of charters and incentives for Dolphin Cruise Line.

"Our capacity is being strained because we have more passengers than we can carry."

Pollack said the line refitted the ship with new interior decor for cabins and public rooms, including carpeting, upholstery and other soft goods.

"The refit represents our commitment to enhancing Imperial's cruise experience," he said.

Imperial, which was launched in January 1999 with a charter of the OceanBreeze, purchased the ship in May from the now-defunct Premier Cruise Lines.

Imperial is owned by three companies: Paramount Marketing and Plaza Resorts, both of which own hotels, and American Investments, which has diversified interests, including a company that sells bottled water, said Pollack.

He said Imperial's two-night program to Nassau has been profitable, explaining, "we have a niche, we studied the niche and we operate for the niche."

Without providing any land packages, transfers or air, the line's operations are "very clean and simplified," said Pollack.

Imperial's market is made up of south Florida residents and visitors who decide to take a cruise out of curiosity, Pollack said.

"Few visitors actually come here to take a two-night cruise," he said.

On the other hand, from 20% to 75% of passengers, depending on the time of year, are visitors to Florida traveling on packages that include the cruise, he said.

Travel agents, who receive a 15% commission from the line, book between 20% and 60% of the line's passengers, depending on the time of year, according to Pollack.

Although most of the agents Imperial deals with are based in Florida, the company's base of agents from outside the state has increased to more than 300 in recent months, said Pollack.

About 65% of OceanBreeze's cabins are outside, with rates ranging from $239 to $279, including port charges. Inside cabins start at $149.

A number of the line's passengers are ship buffs, Pollack said, noting that the steam-powered ship was launched in 1956 as the Southern Cross, sailing from Southampton, England, to Australia.

The ship still features glass-etched doors with the royal emblems for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth II, who originally christened the vessel, was invited to attend its re-introduction this fall, but sent a gracious letter declining the invitation, according to Pollack.

The vessel was also known as Admiral Cruises' Azure Seas before going to Dolphin Cruise Line as the OceanBreeze.

For more information or to make reservations, call (800) 511-5737 or (954) 956-9505.

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