Louis Cruises has purchased two ships from Star Cruises, the 1992-built, 1,750-passenger Norwegian Dream and the 1992-built, 1,462-passenger Norwegian Majesty for $380 million.

Both ships were slated to leave NCL and be transferred to Star as part of NCL's renewal program, and was expected to be part of Star's build-up in Asia. The ships will be chartered back to Star and operated by NCL until November 2008 for the Dream and December 2009 for the Majesty.

Both ships have been stretched since their original build, with the Dream first sailing for NCL as the Dreamward, and the Majesty as the Royal Majesty for Majesty Cruises Lines, also "famous" for having run aground off Nantucket in 1996.

The purchase of the two ships represents the most significant renewal and upgrading of the Louis fleet in the company's 22-year history, according to a prepared statement.

The expansion of Louis' cruise operations is expected to lead to higher profitability for 2009 and onwards and also create new prospects for Louis internationally, the company said. Louis did not say whether it intends to operate and market the two ships itself or charter them out. Louis presently charters ships to Thomas.

Louis has also recently made a commitment to Marseille, along with Costa Crociere and MSC Cruises, to bring a certain number of passengers to the port in return for which the port will further develop its facilities. Louis also has several older ships in its fleet which may be due for retirement.