Nothing should be taken for granted in 1996.

The year started with a bang with the shutdown of Royal Cruise Line, Here was an established brand name with a fleet of relatively modem ships that, when it counted, could not be sold.

Then came the announcement from Holland America Line that a successor is in line for A. Kirk Lanterman, President and CEO, who is 64, although reports of hls retirement have outlasted the entire careers of other cruise line executives. In adilition, HAL has also finally decided to withdraw the Rotterdam (Sept. 30, 1997) after years of reports of her pending retirement.

More recently, Richard Sasso has been appointed President and CEO at Celebrity Cruises, which will see a partial turnover of senior management, and consolidation of all its operations in Miami.

Meanwhile, it is noteworthy that the companies that once made up the luxury segment, Royal Viking Line and Norwegian American, are gone. By year's end only the Vistafjord will remain with Cunard Line.

Instead, it is the small luxury-ship operators that are creating excitement today, with Seabourn Cruise Line taking on the Seaboum Legend, and Silversea Cruises ordering two new ships.

ln adilition. the two biggest operators, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises, may soon be venturing into Europe. Both companies are seeking acquisitions that would allow them to enter the European markets.

Topping off the first 31 days of 1996 are new reports that Carnival is poised to take over Norwegian Cruise Line. A top executive at Carnival suggested it is only a matter of time.

Meanwhile, Cruise Lines International Association is struggling to launch a generic cruise promotional campaign. As the President of a medium-sized cruise line put it: "We agree with the concept of a generic campaign since we clearly need to stimulate the market. But, we have to find the practical form that will benefit all the member cruise lines."