Merger Probably Won't Make Waves

Slater and Basch are Los Angeles free-lance writers

It was masquerade night aboard Holland America's Nieuw Amsterdam.

In the middle of the parade of California raisins, Raggedy Anns and hula dancers were two elderly women dressed in Japanese kimono and black wigs. One carried a sign that read: "New Owners of Holland America Line."

The emcee grinned. "That should be news to Carnival," he said.

Although the ladies might have been confused in thinking that the Japanese were Holland America Line's new owners, their "statement" also reflected the concern of many regular passengers about the merger that occurred last year.

That was when Carnival Cruise Lines took over Holland America Lines, which also owns Windstar Sail Cruises.

It's rare that two financially successful cruise lines with such different personalities merge. Carnival's style is loud and lively, big and brassy, with splashy Las Vegas-type floor shows and busy casinos and bars.

Holland America is comfortable in the old Dutch burgher tradition, with gracious multicourse meals and after-dinner coffee, liqueur and cigars in a cushy lounge to the background of semiclassical music played by a string trio.

Now, the big questions are: Will the flagship Rotterdam stay in service and will the Indonesian and Filipino crew continue to staff the Holland America ships?

The answer, according to a spokesman for Holland America, is yes.

The Nieuw Amsterdam, along with sister ships Noordam and Westerdam, is cruising Alaska's Inside Passage from Vancouver on seven-day sea itineraries through mid-September. All programs offer combined land tours with company-owned Westours.

The Rotterdam is sailing a new Gulf of Alaska itinerary this summer along the glacier route between Vancouver and Seward on seven-day programs departing every Sunday through Sept. 3. Prices begin at $999 per person, double occupancy, plus air fare.

Windstar's 148-passenger Wind Spirit will reposition to Alaska for the summer of 1990, her first visit there.

The Rotterdam will make a 17-day voyage between Vancouver and Ft. Lauderdale starting Oct. 14. For a shorter cruise, passengers can board in Los Angeles or Acapulco. Prices start at $3,610 per person, double occupancy, for the full 17 days.

The Rotterdam's special Christmas cruise this year will feature a 17-day sailing to 11 Caribbean ports, departing Ft. Lauderdale on Dec. 20. Fares begin at $3,460 per person, double occupancy, including round-trip air fare from major U.S. cities, and transfers.

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