The third partner in Royal Admiral Cruises, Anders Wilhelmsen & Co., is currently seeking to raise the financing to exercise its right of first refusal and preempt Carnival Cruise Lines' bid by buying out its partners, Gotaas-Larsen and I.M. Skaugen.

According to industry insiders, the "possibilities are excellent" that Anders Wilhelmsen is able to raise $550 million required to match Carnival's offer. The company has until October 10 to do so.

At press time, executives at Anders Wilhelmsen would not comment except to say that they had "almost" completed their financial package.

Shipowner Arne Wilhelmsen, President of the company, has previously stated that he considers cruising an exciting business and wants to stay in it.

It is now accepted by all parties that Anders Wilhelmsen has the first option to buy out its partners, which both have pledged their shares to Carnival.

Carnival initially reached a principle agreement with Gotaas-Larsen that it would acquire its one-third interests in Royal Admiral, the holding company for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Admiral Cruises. Shortly thereafter, Carnival also announced that I.M. Skaugen had accepted an offer to sell its interest to Carnival.

Wilhelmsen, Skaugen and Gotaas-Larsen have been equal cruise partners in RCCL for more than 20 years.