Japan Cruise Lines (JCL) has ordered a new 24,600-ton cruise ship for delivery in the spring of 1998, according to JCL Senior Managing Director Kazushige Iritani. Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (JMI) will begin construction of the yet-unnamed ship in mid-1997, said Iritani.

JCL, which operates exclusively in the Japanese market, said it has designed the ship for the luxury class. The vessel will be 597 feet long, with a beam of 82 feet and draft of 21 feet, with a speed of 20 knots and a capacity for 720 passengers.

Currently, JCL sails two cruise ships, the 21,884-ton Orient Venus, built in July 1990, and the 13,789-ton New Utopia. built in 1975. Iritani said that when delivered, the new vessel will replace the New Utopia, a move which will increase JCL's passenger capacity by over 10 percent.