American Star Lines, a newly-formed cruise line based in New York, has announced that beginning in February, 1988, it will operate cruises that "no matter the destination, will epitomize the American lifestyle."

The cruises will be offered aboard the Betsy Ross, formerly Bergen Line's Leda, and currently being refurbished in Greece. The 10,000-ton vessel accommodates 450 passengers, but cruises are being restricted to 380, to "ensure an intimate ambiance," according to the line.

Dimitri Anninos, former chief executive officer of Epirotiki Lines, is president and chief executive officer, as well as majority shareholder of American Star Lines. According to him, the Betsy Ross will offer everything that is offered in a deluxe American hotel. Per diems will average about $275, including airfare.

Despite the American theme, however, the Betsy Ross will fly the Greek flag and be crewed by Greek nationals. The cruise staff will be American.

Among the services borrowed from American hotels are full service breakfasts in the cabins, a 24-hour cafe and midnight snacks delivered nightly to the cabins.

American cuisine, featuring New England, Cajun, Tex-Mex, and Southern specialties will be prepared by chefs from American culinary schools. A low-cholesterol, low-calorie and low-salt diet also will be available. The cruise line will handle all hotel operations, a spokesperson reported.

According to Anninos, entertainment will be another distinguishing feature, as the line will offer a different type of show every night, instead of the usual variety of cabaret shows. A diverse roster of chamber groups, classical musicians, academic lecturerers, opera and pop singers, and actors and actresses already has been lined up.

This is in line with the company's desire to attract the "sophisticated cruise passenger who is interested in more than a three- or four-day cruise to the Bahamas or Caribbean." 

"The Betsy Ross is for people who, as part of their normal lifestyle, enjoy going to the opera or recitals, on occasion," Anninos said, noting that he expects the majority of passengers will be in their late 40s and above.

South American and European Programs

The Betsy Ross will begin her inaugural season with a series of 14-day cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Manaus, featuring a voyage up the Amazon River, and calls at seven Caribbean islands, February through April. According to Anninos, her cruising speed of 21 knots, enables her to cover several ports in a short amount of time.

From May through August, the Betsy Ross will offer a Baltic program out of Copenhagen and sail on to the Mediterranean for cruises between Barcelona and Piraeus. In late September, she will return to Fort Lauderdale for a second series of Caribbean-Amazon sailings through March, 1989.

From April through November 1989, she will return to Barcelona and Piraeus, this time offering cruising in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean.

City packages, offering hotel accommodations in London, Copenhagen and Athens are being offered.

Betsy Ross Society

Passengers automatically become members of the Betsy Ross Flagship Society, entitling them to a lump-sum credit toward a future cruise. Membership also enables them to cancel a cruise, up to 24 hours of sailing, and apply the money they have paid to a cruise leaving within the year; and reserve their dining room table, as well as first or second seating when they book their cruise. There is also a shipboard sweepstakes aboard each cruise that offers passengers an opportunity to win an all-expense-paid trip to a "great American destination."

Print Campaign to Break May 17

The line plans to launch a print campaign in trade publications on May 17, and consumer advertising in newspapers and magazines in 20 markets on May 31. A coast to coast series of 90 travel agent seminars will begin on June 1. The focus will be the maiden voyage of the Betsy Ross to the Caribbean and Amazon in February.

A 64-page brochure is scheduled to be released soon.

Solin Associates of New York is the selected agency. The advertising budget reportedly is $1.2 million.

Gillies and Zaiser of New York is handling public relations.