One vessel will operate year-round in Polynesia, while the other will remain for two months of the year and spend the other 10 months in New Caledonia. Ten-day cruises are foreseen starting in December.
The move is a relief for Polynesia, where the two ships were carrying 40,000 passengers a year with a turnover of 25m to 30m euros. Moreover, the wharf in Uturoa, Raiatea's main town, had been specially equipped for the Renaissance vessels.
Tourism in Polynesia will develop further with the arrival in 2003 of Windstar Cruises' WindSurf which -- with 150 more cabins -- will replace WindSong. The local government has adopted new measures to encourage island cruises, including holding the line on some taxes and customs duties to make the region more competitive wtih the Caribbean.