Star Cruises has launched a number of original programs that are indicative of its future strategy.

Among these is the showcasing of the Superstar Virgo in Alexandria - the first time ever that a new cruise ship has been presented in Egypt or the Middle East.

Travel agents are expected to come from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern markets, according to Star Cruises.

Last year, Star Cruises showcased the Superstar Leo in Mumbai and this year the Virgo will also be shown in Mumbai and sail her maiden voyage from there to Singapore.

But Star Cruises is also reaching in other directions. The company recently completed a nine-day road show in Australia and used the opportunity to present details about its new Libra-class ships.

The Superstar Libra and Scorpio will be 91,000 tons with a passenger capacity of 2,300 and feature Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Italian restaurants, in addition to two main dining rooms catering to 1,200 passengers at any one time and a fast-food outlet. Altogether there will be about 2,000 dining seats - or almost one seat for every passenger.

The Australian road show targeted travel agents and wholesalers.

Said Colin Au, president and CEO of Star Cruises, "The availability of six new world-class ships will give us a competitive edge in catering to multi­ cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-source markets.

"The new ships also provide us with the option to position a larger vessel against any cruise ship that may be introduced by other cruise lines in Asia/Pacific." To further boost the line's visibility, an extraordinary shareholders' meeting is slated for August 19 to seek approval for the placement of up to five percent of the outstanding 31.2 million shares to private and institutional investors.