Airtours' Sun Cruises has announced its long-expected acquisition of Royal Caribbean International's (RCI) Song of America.

The acquisition price was $94.5 million, or $67,403 per berth, for the 1982-built, 37,584-ton, 1,402-passenger ship.

Sun Cruises will take delivery of the Song of America in May (1998), but charters the ship back to RCI, which will continue her present programs through mid-March of 1999. Then, the Song of Norway will be refurbished and renamed before entering service for Sun Cruises in May of 1999, sailing summers in the Mediterranean and winters in the Caribbean.

John Drysdale, Airtours' director of business development, also underscored that the acquisition does not preclude Sun Cruises from entering its own newbuilding program.

In contrast to previous ship sales by RCI, the Song of America will retain her trademark Viking Crown Lounge due to the excessive cost of removing the structure. However, Sun Cruises is required to rename the lounge.

The acquisition brings Sun Cruises' fleet to four ships including the former Nordic Prince and Song of Norway, also from RCI.