Kloster Cruise Limited has sold the Sunward II to Epirotiki Lines for a reported $36 million. At the same time, the two companies have created a new joint venture for the operation of the ship.

The Sunward II, which will be delivered to Epirotiki on November 1, 1991, will be renamed Triton and will sail as an Epirotiki ship under Greek flag and with Greek officers and crew.

Hans Golteus, President of Kloster Cruise, emphasized that Kloster would hold a "substantial minority interest" in the new joint venture which would be responsible for the technical operation of the ship. It was reported from Miami that Kloster would hold a 49 percent interest and Epirotiki 51 percent.

The 21-year old, 676-passenger, 14,100-ton ship will sail in the Aegean Islands in the spring, summer and fall, and in the Caribbean during the winter months. According to sources, the ship has largely been chartered to a Canadian tour operator for the winter months.

According to a spokesperson for Kloster Cruise, the joint venture, which has yet to be named, will also promote tourism to Greece, taking advantage of Epirotiki's expertise in the Mediterranean area. Likewise, she said, the joint venture will draw on Kloster's experience in the Caribbean to assist in the marketing of the vessel during the winter months.

Industry sources speculated that the joint venture was a "test project" for a growing relationship between Kloster and Epirotiki whereby Kloster would be able to redeploy its aging white fleet while at the same time tapping into a growing European market. Both Kloster and Epirotiki executives declined to comment.

Before its acquisition of Royal Cruise Line in 1989, it was widely rumored that Kloster was interested in Epirotiki.

RVL Sky Becomes New Sunward

At the same time, Kloster has announced that the 28,000-ton Royal Viking Sky will replace the Sunward II and be renamed Sunward. The RVL Sky has recently been idle while Kloster has sought to sell or charter the vessel.

The new, 790-passenger Sunward will begin sailing three and four-day cruises from Miami to Key West, Nassau and the company's private out island on October 28. Prior to introduction, the ship will be in drydock for maintenance and construction of a new children's playroom and video arcade.

1991/92 rates are set from $515 to $1,395 per person, double occupancy, for three-day cruises, and from $635 to $1,575 for four-day cruises, including air fare from selected cities in the United States and Canada.

According to Golteus, the new Sunward will bring a much more upscale product to the short cruise market. Golteus said that the new Sunward is not so much for the traditional three- and four-day cruise passengers as for "people who like to take short vacations."