Festival Cruises bas bought the Southern Cross and will take delivery this Fall. The 1973-built, 17,000-ton, 800-passenger ship is the former Starship Majestic which Premier Cruise Lines had chartered to CTC Cruises.

The deal was brokered jointly by Hoegh, Persen & Partners of Miami and Oslo, and Barry Rogliano Salles of Paris.

The ship will be upgraded to 1997 Solas standards before Festival takes delivery. In addition, the Piraeus-based cruise line plans to spend another $5 million to $6 million overhauling the machinery and galley and upgrading staterooms and public areas.

The Southern Cross will also be renamed, and following suit of the line's other two ships, the Azur and the Bolero, a "C' name is expected.

Festival, which launched service with the Azur in 1994, added the Bolero, the former Starward, in 1996. A spokesperson said that Festival expects to add ships number four and five before the year 2000, but that "each ship must have paid for itself before the next one is acquired."

Festival also recently announced that it has carried its 100.000th passenger since inception.

The spokesperson attributed the company's success partially to its multi-language European cruise product, exclusive sales offices in most of the European countries, and also to the fact that its ships sail mostly from Venice and Genoa and therefore appeals to the European drive-market and passengers who simply prefer not to fly.

In addition, Festival also offers a year-round Mediterranean service aboard the Azur, while the Bolero has been chartered to Regent Holidays, a Canadian tour operator, during the winter months and sails in the Caribbean. This summer, both ships also return to ports in the former Yugoslavia, calling in Dubrovnik and Korcula.