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Cardin Interiors for Only $6,800 a Week : Down to the Sea in a Designer Ship

Times Staff Writer

A few years ago, Time magazine said of Pierre Cardin: “His name . . . can be worn, walked on, slept in, sat upon, munched, drunk, flown, pedaled or driven.”

Now, there is still another option. It will soon be possible to sail on a creation of the famed fashion designer, for Cardin has invested in a luxurious cruise ship that will cater to the wealthy.

The ship--with a Cardin-designed interior--is named Maxim’s des Mers, a reference to the Parisian restaurant Maxim’s, which is owned by Cardin.

Maxim’s des Mers will carry just 32 passengers--in 16 outside luxury suites--and will have a crew of 34. This makes it the smallest of a number of small luxury ships that have been launched or are being built.

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The Sea Goddess I and the Sea Goddess II, Norwegian-registered ships now in operation, each carry only 116 passengers. A British ship, the Vanderbilt, whose interior design is intended to evoke the atmosphere of the Orient Express, the famed European railroad train, will have a capacity of 200 and is scheduled to begin sailing next year.

Jean Miguel, the 40-year-old Swiss singer and publicist who is chairman of the company that owns Maxim’s des Mers, said in an interview Thursday that bookings are heavy for the vessel’s Mediterranean cruises this summer.

The threat of terrorism on land and in commercial aircraft and the quest of the wealthy for elegance have combined, he said, to account for the apparent advance popularity of the ship. Much of the advance booking comes from Americans, he said.

Miguel explained that crew members have been screened so there is no chance of a terrorist gaining employment on the ship. The ship is equipped with underwater cameras and metal detectors.

And, he said, the ship will provide a degree of luxury “available only in the major palaces of the world. The palace will follow them everywhere.”

When passengers are taken to shore on the Maxim’s des Mers’ “floating limousine,” for example, they will be given portable telephones to call for their return transportation. Once their cruise is over, they will be flown by private jet to the nearest major airport.

For such amenities the cost is high.

Rates for a seven-day cruise will run from $4,200 to $6,800 per person, double occupancy. Miguel says that some people have taken several suites. The entire ship may also be booked by individuals and corporations for about $500,000 a week.

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The 1,590-ton vessel, 180 feet long, will begin its maiden voyage May 25 at Monte Carlo and will sail to Spain, Portugal and Bermuda before arriving at New York, where it will take part in the festivities commemorating the 100th birthday of the Statue of Liberty. Then it will return to the Mediterranean for its summer schedule of cruises.

Top French Chefs Aboard

Every effort has been made to remind passengers of Maxim’s restaurant, Miguel said, and several top French chefs will be aboard to prepare their specialties.

The restaurant, which opened in 1893, is known for its unique decor as well as its food, and Cardin has duplicated some of the decorative elements--including bronze foliage, undulating plant sculptures made of brass and stained-glass windows--for the ship’s interior.

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But there will be modern-day amenities as well. The ship will have an outdoor swimming pool, a whirlpool, massage room and a casino. There will be videocassette recorders, air conditioning and direct-dial telephones.

The ship, a former yacht that was refurbished at a cost of $15 million, has five suites decorated in Art Nouveau fashion. The other 11 are of contemporary design.

Cardin also owns the Maxim’s restaurant in New York and another in Peking. He is also the owner of Maxim’s Suite Hotel in Palm Springs.


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