Royal Caribbean Cruises has agreed to purchase the Spanish cruise and tour operator, Pullmantur, for 430 million euros, plus the assumption of net debt of 270 million euros, for a total cost of approximately $896, based on current exchange rates. The deal is expected to be completed by the fourth quarter. Royal Caribbean also acquired Spanish travel agent Latitud 4 earlier this year. Latitud 4 had been Royal Caribbean general sales agent in Spain.

Pullmantur presently has five ships: The 2000- built, 684-passenger Blue Dream and the Blue Moon (formerly the R6 and R7); the 1981-built 1,000-passenger Holiday Dream (formerly the Superstar Aries and Europa): the 1965-built 1,000-passenger Oceanic (formerly the Starship Oceanic'): and the 1984 built 1,200-passenger Sky Wonder (formerly the Pacific Skv. Skv Princess).

Royal Caribbean said the acquisition will further expand its operations in European and Latin American markets.

Pullmantur sells travel packages and cruises to Spanish customers and European packages to Latin American customers.

Its one ship sailing year-round from Havana, the Holiday Dream, will be withdrawn from all activities prior to the deal being completed.

Pullmantur has also recently been expanding its operations in the Caribbean and will have a ship, the Blue Moon, sailing year round from Aruba starting this November.

Pullmantur's  annual cruise capacity is approximately 158,170, according to estimates by Cruise Industry News.

According to a spokesperson for Royal Caribbean, the Spanish cruise market has been growing at an annual rate of some 25 percent and Pullmantur has a 36 percent market share.

The spokesperson also confirmed that Pullmantur will continue to concentrate on the Spanish and Latin American markets.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean will bring certain synergies to the table, including purchasing power, newbuilding expertise and access to ships, according to the spokesperson.

It is known that Pullmantur has been talking to shipyards about newbuilding projects and that it has discussed the possibility of stretching the Blue Dream and Blue Moon.

Not planning to make Pullmantur pan-European product. Royal Caribbean is also part owner of Island Cruises, a joint venture with First Choice, in the U.K. market.

In addition. Royal Caribbean has also been building up marketing presence and sourcing more passengers in Europe for its North American-based brands, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises with ships dedicated to European markets.