CIN has learned that the 600-passenger Astor may be sold to the Russians. Officials at the Morpasflot passenger shipping agency confirmed that the Russian government is seriously negotiating to buy the ship and even hinted that the sale has been all but consummated. One reliable source in the United States said that the Russians will probably take possession of the ship in September and that there is little chance that New York-based Astor Cruises will continue to market it in North America.

London-based Morgan Leisure currently charters the Astor and has a joint operating agreement with Astor Cruises that allows Astor to sell the ship in North America.

Astor Cruises President Fred Mayer maintained that "a lot of ship lines are interested in buying the Astor," but that the actual transfer of possession won't take place until 1989. He said that any announcement of the pending sale would probably come "sometime in late March, April or May."

Mayer added that Astor Cruises cancelled two Far Eastern sailings on the Astor and will reschedule the sailings as a seven-day Venice-to-Genoa cruise on Sept. 26 and a nine-day Genoa-to-Lisbon sailing on October 3rd, before drydocking in Lisbon.