Holland America Line (HAL) has signed an agreement with Fincantieri for the construction of two new 84,000-ton, 1,800-passenger vessels expected to enter service in the fall of 2002 and summer of 2003. The agreement also includes options for HAL for up to three sister ships to be delivered between 2003 and 2005. The construction price is approximately $400 million for each ship.

HAL's order follows Royal Caribbean International's (RCI), which only the day before had signed a letter of intent with Meyer Werft to build two more 88,000-ton, 2,100-passenger Vantage-class ships for approximately $800 million. The ships are slated for delivery in 2003 and 2004. The agreement includes options for two more sister ships as well. In addition are reports that RCI is also considering Eagle-class ships number four and five.

The latest orders, letter of intent and options bring the world's orderbook for cruise ships to 63 (for deliveries from 2000 through 2006) with an estimated building value of about $21 billion.

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