Ivaran Shipping Lines - the Norwegian-based company that operates passenger/cargo vessels - has announced that it is expanding its cruise operations with a new 90-passenger vessel.

The $25 million-vessel, which is being built by Daewoo of Korea, will have the largest passenger capacity of any container ship, and be first class, according to Eva Hansen, spokesperson for the line. It will have a dining room, several bars, a library, a lounge with a dance floor and orchestra, a swimming pool, a sauna, and a beauty salon.

Scheduled for delivery at the end of 1987, the new ship will offer 50-day cruises from New York along the east coast of South America.

"We are 90 percent sure that it will sail under Norwegian flag with a Norwegian crew," Hansen said.

Ivaran currently operates two 12-passenger passenger/freight vessels - the Santa Fe and Salvador - both offering 50 to 60-day cruises from Houston to the Caribbean and then along the east coast of South America. Passengers disembark in New Orleans.

Each vessel is 14,700 tons, and features four double and four single cabins - with private facilities, a shower, a refrigerator, a table, a sofa, and lounge chair. They also have a restaurant, lounge with a television and a swimming pool.

The cruises have proven extremely popular among Americans and Canadians Hansen said.

"Many of our clients have come over from the cruise lines because they want to see what really goes on aboard a ship. They also see more of the ports because we stay in most places for more than one day - and in several ports, planned excursions are offered."

Noting that the per person rate is $6,720, Hansen said Ivaran's clients are wealthy, and most are retired.

Word of mouth has generated the majority of Ivaran's clients. The company also relies on travel agents that deal strictly with freighters, and advertisements in shipping magazines. A listing in the Official Steamship Guide also has been particularly effective, according to Hansen.

The new cruises will have to be marketed more aggressively, although no plans have been developed yet, Hansen said.

However, Ivaran foresees growth potential in this area, and has an option for two additional vessels.

Last year, revenues from its freight operations yielded $88 million.