Briana Cruises is the name of the new operator which will launch one-day cruises from the Port of Cape Canaveral by the end of December aboard the 4,000-ton Arcadia. The ship, which was originally built in 1969 has been completely gutted and refurbished, and is presently being completed in Piraeus, according to Matthew Assima, President of the cruise line and one of the two principals in the venture.
Assima and his partner, Filipo Milone, a noted restaurant owner and Mobile businessman, acquired the ship for a reported $5.5 million and is spending another $4 million on refurbishment.
"We are very small and very unimportant in the large cruise picture," Assima told CIN. "We will not be a mass market vessel, but will instead give our customers, the passengers, two things that many ships seem to missing: value for their money and service."
Assima said that Briana was small enough to take care of their passengers and that the Arcadia would carry from 550 to 600 on day-cruises. He stressed that meal service would be from menus and that if his ship ever offered buffet meal service (except at midnight), "he would personally sink it."
Assima conceded that with a small ship emphasizing a high service level, Briana might not be able to offer day-cruises for as little as $39 as some of the competition, but that the company has not set rates yet.
Briana Cruises, which is based in Mobile, Al., will soon be establishing offices in Cape Canaveral and plans on hiring local personnel for administration, marketing and sales and reservations. The ship's flag will be Greek and officers will be Greek and Italian. While Briana will manage its own hotel and food operations, the company has not yet decided whether to concession its casino, but it has been "flooded" with proposals, according to Assima.
In addition to one-day cruises to nowhere, Briana will also be offering monthly four- and five-day cruises to the Bahamas.
Assima, who has no previous cruise experience, but has operated an oil tanker company, Trident Group, in Mobile for 18 years, said that if the operation in Port Canaveral is successful, the company will expand into the Boston area with cruises to Canada.
As of July 31, Port Canaveral reported that cruise passengers were up 41 percent to 748,156 compared to the same period last year. The port projects one million passengers by 1990.