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Holland America Purchases Home Lines Ships

Holland America Line has announced that it has purchased the Homeric and the Atlantic from Home Lines. While HAL was unwilling to disclose the price, sources indicated that the cruise line paid about $250 million for the two ships.

Holland America will take delivery of the two-year old Homeric in November after it concludes its Bermuda season. The Homeric will be sailing alternating seven-day Eastern Caribbean and seven-day Western Caribbean itineraries, with Sunday departures from Fort Lauderdale. The ship will be renamed the Westerdam.

Plans for the six-year old Atlantic have not yet been defined, according to HAL, but it seems fairly certain that the ship will either be leased or sold to Premier Cruise Lines.

It is expected that the Homeric will be operated with Dutch officers, Filipino crew and Indonesian staff, and will fly the flag of the Netherlands Antilles, like the other three HAL ships.

HAL also said it is pursuing plans to build two 1,600- to 1,800-passenger ships.

Earlier, the line also indicated plans to develop its own private island for cruise passenger and other resort properties in the Caribbean.

Announcing the itineraries for the Westerdam, HAL said that the planned Eastern Caribbean sailings will include calls at Little Stirrup Cay, a private out island.

The purchase of the Home Lines ships and the building of two new vessels would commit HAL to a $500 million capital investment program. Last year, the line acquired a 50% stake in Windstar Sail Cruises at a reported investment of $12 million. Also last year, the company acguired control of the six-hotel Sheffield chain in Alaska, giving it ownership of 13 hotels in that state.

Home Lines will cease operations at the end of the year, relinquishing its long-term berthing rights in Hamilton. This comes at a time when Bermuda has developed additional cruise berths and when there reportedly are discussions of limiting the island to upscale cruise passengers. The Port of New York will also be looking for more cruise ship business. Home Lines is the only homeported cruise line with regular sailings from the city.

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