FIRST Choice is to introduce a second ship to its cruising programme for summer 2000, after pulling back from the same plan this year.
The company was originally going to operate both the 900-passenger Bolero and the 520-passenger Ausonia in 1999.
However, First Choice then decided this was too ambitious a move for its first year in the cruising market, and opted to launch just with Bolero (Travel Weekly November 4 1998).
First Choice has now chartered Ausonia from Cyprus-based company Louis Cruise Lines for the next three summers. The ship, which first entered service in 1957, will undergo a refit this winter to First Choice’s specifications.
Marketing manager Maggie Sherlock said the company had planned all along to offer a second ship, and claimed the successful launch of Bolero this summer had confirmed the decision.
“We have hit our targets and done a bit better than we had previously expected,” she said. However, she refused to give specific figures.
Ausonia will carry out a series of one-week Cradles of Civilisation cruises from Limassol in Cyprus next year, starting from £599.
It will also operate 14-night voyages either from Southampton to Limassol or back again, which cost from £899.
Bolero, which is chartered from Festival Cruises, will operate out of Palma.
n Louis Cruise Lines has floated 30% of its business on the Cyprus Stock Exchange in a move which is aimed at raising £21.5m.
The money will be spent on paying off short-term loans and either building or buying new ships.
The remaining 70% of the company will stay in the hands of group chairman Costakis Loizou and his family.
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