Following its purchase of Premier Cruise Lines' 1,126-passenger Oceanic last year, Spanish tour operator Pullmantur has further expanded its operation with the charter of the 690-passenger RS from May 3-Nov. 6, 2002, according to Johan Tyren, advisor to the general manager of Pullmantur. Temporarily renamed the Blue Dream, Tyren said the ship will sail every Monday from Barcelona to Malta, Sicily, Civitavecchia, La Spezia and Villefrancbe. The Oceanic departs Mondays year-round, sailing from Barcelona to Villefrancbe, Livorno, Civitavecchia, Naples and Malta.

"It is not our plan to charter ships - we want to own our vessels," explained Tyren, "but we needed the ship this summer to meet demand." He said negotiations would begin in the fall for the purchase of a second ship to enter service in 2003.

"The new Blue Dream is obviously of a very high standard, so we do charge somewhat more for cruises aboard her than aboard the Oceanic, but not enough to scare anybody away," be said. Passengers are almost entirely Spanish, and vary widely in age, from the early 20s to the upper 80s, be said. "The great majority of them just drive up to the port in Barcelona."

Meanwhile, the N.Y.-based broker handling the disposal of the remalillilg Renaissance vessels unequivocally reaffirmed that talks have ceased with Imperium Cruise Lines regarding the charter or purchase of any of the former Renaissance vessels. Imperium continues to assert to the press that it intends to begin service in the Persian Gulf with ships homeported in Dubai. According to several sources, representatives of Imperium have been spotted in Freeport, Bahamas, examining the languishing vessels of Premier Cruise Lines.