Epirotiki Lines "is committed to run Greek flagged ships and employ Greek crew, while developing year-round operations of its vessels," according to President and CEO Pamela Conover.
Most recently, Epirotiki announced that 1995 will mark the company's first winter season of full operations. Beginning in November to April, it would deploy the World Renaissance to Eilat, Israel for a series of week-long sailings that include calls in Egypt and Jordan.
Conover said that during recent discussions, Epirotiki has reassured Greek unions about its status quo stance in employment issues. The Greek unions have protested the new ownership breakdown that leaves Carnival Corporation with 49 percent, and the remaining 51 percent held by the Potamianos family and Paris Katsoufis, president of Dolphin and Majesty Cruise Lines. They claim that partial ownership by Katsoufis, who holds a Greek passport, but is a longtime resident of the U.S., may not guarantee a majority Greek ownership of 51 percent as required by that country. Some observers say that Katsoufis is allied with Carnival.
"There has been a lot of press coverage about the ownership issue, but the line is 51 percent Greek owned," said Conover.
Katsoufis, who also serves as Epirotiki's chairman, has recently promoted his intention to merge Dolphin with Epirotiki, thus bringing the OceaoBreeze and SeaBreeze into Epirotiki's fleet. According to published reports, Katsoufis claims that Citicorp has valued the Dolphin ships and the marketing company which he owns, at $45 million.
"Captain Katsoufis and others are on the record regarding discussions among shareholders about the possibility of merging Dolphin (with Epirotiki) and this remains a future possibility," noted Conover.
In related news, the Lucky Star, formerly the Mardi Gras, which Conover confirmed is still owned by Epirotiki, is at anchor somewhere in the Caribbean, although Conover would not disclose its exact location. The day-cruiser had been operated from Miami for about a month by Lucky Star Cruises, formerly Gold Star Cruises, which sailed the vessel, then known as the Star of Texas, from Galveston, Texas. The company has folded, allegedly owing millions of dollar in both states.