With 1985 bookings up 50 percent from 1984, and 1986 bookings expected to be even better, Pearl Cruises of Scandnavia is finally seeing its efforts pay off, according to Johan Paus president of the line. The success comes after a period of introductory problems.

Paus said that Pearl's upswing is due, in part, to an overhauled marketing strategy that employed a computer study and focus groups that put the company's market into sharper focus. It revealed a college-educated, well-travelled and semi-retired person, earning at least $40,000 per year as the perfect target for its ads in Travel & Leisure, Town & Country, Gourmet, New Yorker, Smithsonian, and various newspapers.

Director of Marketing Donna Remillard also attributed the increase in bookings to word of mouth from satisfied passengers that has led to a favorable image among travel agents.

The 425-passenger Pearl of Scandinavia sails three alternating year-round itineraries that visit various South Pacific Islands, Japan, Thailand and mainland China. All of the sailings are well booked, with the China itinerary enjoying solid bookings through the end of 1986, according to Remillard.

Also sailing in the Orient, but on a seasonal basis only, are: Royal Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Sea Goddess, Royal Viking Lines, and NAC/Cunard, among others.

Remillard sees Pearl's year-round presence as its main advantage. "We're the most experienced and have taken more passengers than any other line. We know the land tour operators betters, so our tours are run a lot more smoothly," she said.

1986 rates for a Pearl China Explorer cruise are $3,805 per person, double occupancy in an outside cabin for 18 days, with air add-ons of between $99 and $259. Advance purchase discounts also are available. 1985 rates for the same accommodations were $3,830 for 14 days, with similar air add-ons and advance-purchase discounts.

Looking to the future, Remillard hopes to broaden the company's market base to include a younger passenger, but admits it won't be easy because younger people seldom can spare the up to 18 days required for a Pearl cruise. Regional sales representatives currently are exploring the university market for possible group tours which would consist mainly of younger passengers, she said.

Pearl, which is owned by J. Lauritzen A/S of Copenhagen, alluded to expansion plans, but would not reveal details.