P&OCruises has taken a 51% stake in a new German company, Aida Cruises.

The remaining 49% is owned by cruise specialist Arkona Touristik which operates Aida, Germany’s most popular cruise ship. The three-year-old vessel, which has 1,200 berths, will be transferred to the new company, which will also own and operate the 520-berth Arkona, a traditional ship operated by Seetours International. Seetours was also part of Arkona Touristik.

P&OCruises chairman Tim Harris said negotiations with a shipyard for two new ships, similar in concept to Aida, are already well advanced.

He said the German cruise market is relatively underdeveloped, attracting just 300,000 passengers a year. P&O is targeting 150,000 passengers a year by 2002, up from the 75,000 it carries on its two current ships.