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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Orient Lines to Sail Again

Orient Lines, the destination cruise line that lost its only vessel in March and seemed destined to the ranks of lines in the sky, may get a new lease on life.

Orient was acquired by Wayne Heller, the founder of an Orlando-based travel agency, Cruises Only, who says that he will shortly make an announcement about a new flagship for the line, and new cruise itineraries.

Heller says that he plans to acquire 600- to 800-passenger vessels that are “rich in history and character” and offer an onboard product similar to what Orient Lines offered.

Orient, founded in 1991, made its name by being among the first to take an upscale cruise ship into the likes of Antarctica, Asia, and other less-treaded waterways. It operated the 42-year-old Marco Polo, which was acquired by U.K.-based Transocean Tours in March.

The sale of that ship seemed to be the death knell for Orient, until last week.

Heller, Orient's new owner, said he plans to revitalize, not reinvent, the line. Heller said that cruisers can expect "the same friendly and gracious service that has endeared legions of intrepid travelers to Orient Lines over the past 15 years."

Orient used to be a sister company to Norwegian Cruise Line; both were owned by Malaysia-based Star Cruises, which still owns 50% of NCL.


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