After many months of delays, a high-level source indicated the order for Holland America Line's (HAL) "Cruise 8000" series will finally be inked within the next 10 days. It is believed that the order will probably go to either Germany's HDW or Italy's Fincantieri, although South Korean builder Samsung was still in the running at press time, according to the source.

If Samsung ends up not getting the deal, he added, it would be due, in part, to the yard's subcontractor infrastructure - which does not compare to Europe's. HAL had previously signed a "letter of understanding" to build two Cruise 8000 ships at Samsung, at a contract price of around $330 million each.

The latest version of the deal will be for three firm orders, not two and an option, as was previously planned. The series will feature 80,000-ton, 1,800-passenger vessels with the first to be delivered in 2002.

Meanwhile, in other news at HAL, it was believed at press time that an announcement was imminent on the transfer of the 33,930-ton, 1,214-passenger Nieuw Amsterdam to American Classic Voyages (AMCV) for its new Hawaii brand.