Radisson Seven Seas Cruises is believed to be in negotiations with Society Expeditions for the sale of the 8,282-ton, 180-passenger Song of Flower. Society Expeditions President Michael Lomax would not comment, stating only that he is "proceeding with the acquisition of a replacement ship (to the recently lost World Discoverer) currently in operation within the small-ship luxury market, with a prominent cruise line." Lomax said the line's new ship, to be renamed the New World Discoverer, would enter service in November 2000.

Society Expedition's previous ship, the 3,724-ton, 138-passenger World Discoverer, has been declared a total loss by the ship's insurer. Since its grounding in the Solomon Islands in late April following a collision with an uncharted reef, attempts to survey the ship for damage have run afoul of local political turmoil. According to Lomax, "One of the warring factions in the Solomon Islands ended up in the area where the World Discoverer was being salvaged, and about 120 armed men boarded the ship and threatened the salvagers. The salvagers cut the lines and left."

Lomax said the impact of the ship's loss on the company has been mitigated by business interruption insurance as well as the fact that it was due to be out of service anyway for a drydocking following the Solomon Islands itinerary. While the summer Alaska and South Pacific seasons have been lost, Lomax said the New World Discoverer would begin sailing in November for the 2000-2001 Antarctica season.

He said that Society Expeditions' previously reported intentions to build two new vessels are still on - just delayed. "We've bad talks with yards in Spain, France and Germany, and we're currently in talks with two yards," he explained. "We hope to have a contract signed within the next three months." The order would be for two ships in the 220-passenger range, with the first to be delivered in the latter part of the 2003, and the delivery timetable for the second ship undetermined.