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160,000-Ton Megaship Announced

Shipping magnate Ravi Tikkoo has announced intentions to build a 3,000-passenger, 160,000-ton cruise ship at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, pending financing and an acceptable price.

Tikkoo said that he would go ahead and build the ship if the yard's bid is below $500 million.

The ship, which is codenamed "the Ultimate Dream," is designed by the naval architectural firm Knud E. Hansen of Denmark, which also did the original design work on the Phoenix and publicity photos show the new ship looks surprisingly similar to its bigger and older "sister."

The Ultimate Dream would sail seven-day cruises out of Miami and New York. Tikkoo is also said to be considering a second ship, which would operate from the West Coast. Both ships would cater to an upscale market, with all outside suites and other amenities. Temple, Barker & Sloane has conducted market research in the United States for Tikkoo and presumably recommended the project.

Tikkoo once was dominant in tanker trading, and has been developing this cruise project over the last five years.

According to sources in England, it is expected that Harland & Wolff, which last year lost more than $100 million and operates in a severely depressed area, would receive the necessary subsidies from the British government.

In the meantime, World City, the corporation established by Knut Kloster Sr., to finance and build his planned 250,000-ton, 5,000-passenger ship, is surveying potential cruise ports in the United States.

Kloster has also worked on his project for some five years and has entertained negotations with shipyards in Germany and Japan, without reaching any contractual agreement. Financing has also not yet been completed.

Both Tikkoo and Kloster believe that the U.S. cruise market is product-led and that the current, traditional cruise ships are unproductive and inefficient compared to their megaship concepts.

Kloster has said that at 60 percent to 80 percent load factors the Phoenix would be the most profitable ship afloat. According to Tikkoo, the giant vessels, represents the first real opportunity to break away from traditional ship cruising and enter the much larger vacation market.

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