Luxury Liners, parent company of Fort Lauderdale-based Renaissance Cruises, is looking to inaugurate a cruise line by late 1997/early 1998, according to Jean Francois Cristau, Chairman, Barry Rogliano Salles, the Paris ship broker handling the project.

According to Cristau, two to three newbuildings, each carrying 700 to 800 passengers, are planned for the new line which will be marketed to North Americans and which will offer worldwide cruise programs.

The new company will reportedly be positioned in the premium segment, although Edward Rudner, head of Luxury Liners, and also Chairman and CEO of Renaissance, declined to elaborate on the proposed line's market direction.

The decision to construct new vessels came after evaluation of existing tonnage revealed that "there was nothing out there (to meet Luxury Liners' needs)," noted Cristau. Currently, he added, Barry Rogliano Salles is "in discussion with a small number of European shipyards" regarding the newbuilding project, and he anticipates final shipyard selection this summer. Cristau budgeted construction costs for each newbuilding at about $100 million.

A shipyard in Spain, according to one industry source, had come close to receiving the contract about one month ago until Luxury Liners withdrew from the negotiations allegedly because of conflicts.

Testing the Waters

Luxury Liners may be preparing to test its prowess in the larger ship market with a newly signed joint marketing agreement between Renaissance and Orient Lines. As part of the deal, Renaissance effectively purchased a number of berths on every May to October 1996 seven-day Mediterannean sailing of Orient's 800-passenger Marco Polo.