"It is not our ambition to do anything ordinary," said Colin Veitch, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, after the christening ceremony of the Pride of America. Veitch described the 81,000-ton ship as different than the other NCL ships - with American themes - yet similar, featuring the line's freestyle cruising concept.

Veitch said the company has accomplished a lot in two years - getting legislation passed to allow the reflagging of ships to operate in Hawaii - and already sails two American-flagged ships, the Pride of Aloha and the Pride of America, with a third, the Pride of Hawaii, arriving next year "around Easter time." N

CL will then have four ships in Hawaii, the three American-flagged ships on inter-island service, plus the Norwegian Wind sailing longer cruises that include Fanning Island.

Veitch is also testing the depth of the West Coast market for trans-Pacific cruises, offering one cruise from San Francisco to Honolulu this year, with more to follow next year.

The Pride of America sails her first seven-day cruise from Honolulu on July 23. "After this," Veitch said, "the next project could be the United States. But that project depends on the success of this project (NCL America in Hawaii),"he added.

"The United States project is advancing, but advancing slowly," Veitch continued. "Once we get NCL America up and running successfully, then we may go outside Hawaii." He said that technical feasibility studies conducted so far looked very good for the rebuilding of the 1952-built United States.

NCL also acquired the 1950-built Independence, but has no immediate plans for her, according to Veitch, who described that acquisition as an opportunistic purchase.

The Pride of America was christened by Elaine Chao, U.S. secretary of labor. Also in attendance was Michael Sacco, president of the Seafarers International Union.