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NCL buys Polynesian tour bus company

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Polynesian Adventure Tours, the second-largest tour bus company in the state, is going cruising.

The parent of Norwegian Cruise Line said yesterday it has acquired the Hawaii-based company from a California living trust for $5 million. NCL Corp., which is headquartered in Miami, said it will retain all of Polynesian Adventure Tours' 200 employees and that the transportation company will continue to serve all its existing clients.

"This acquisition complements our long-term strategic plan in Hawaii," said Robert Kritzman, NCL's executive vice president and managing director of Hawaii operations.

"NCL is poised to invest the necessary resources in Polynesian Adventure Tours to meet the needs of Norwegian's cruise business as well as service the company's existing customer base."

Polynesian Adventure Tours, which already counts Norwegian Cruise Line as one of its clients, operates more than 100 motor coaches and buses on Oahu, Kauai, Maui and the Big Island. The bus company offers tours to such attractions as the Arizona Memorial and Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu, Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island and Waimea Canyon on Kauai.

The seller was Shig Katayama, sole trustee of the Shig Katayama and Hana Katayama Living Trust. Polynesian Adventure Tours was founded in 1977 by Robert George, who is still with the company as the director of sales, and Don Brown. They sold the business in 1986 to Katayama.

Polynesian Adventure Tours' chief competitor, Roberts Hawaii, also services Norwegian Cruise Line. Norwegian said Polynesian Adventure Tours will handle as many shore excursions as possible but that Roberts Hawaii and other companies will be used, as well.

Roberts Hawaii, founded on Kauai in 1941 by the late Robert Iwamoto Sr., is a family affair with Iwamoto's son Robert Jr. the chief executive officer and grandson Troy serving as president and chief operating officer. The company operates 1,000 vehicles on the four major islands.

"We will be having meetings to discuss our strategy and to review any impact this acquisition may have on the current Roberts Hawaii business with Norwegian Cruise Line," said Sam Shenkus, media spokeswoman for Roberts Hawaii.

NCL, which operates the U.S.-flagged Pride of Aloha and the foreign-flagged Norwegian Wind year-round in Hawaii, plans to double its Hawaii-based fleet by 2006. A second U.S.-flagged ship, the Pride of America, is expected to be delivered in July with another U.S.-flagged vessel, the Pride of Hawaii, due in the spring of 2006.

Ultimately, NCL's four vessels are expected to bring about 500,000 vacationers a year to the state. NCL said the acquisition of Polynesian Adventure Tours will ensure that NCL can develop the ground operations necessary to serve most tour and transfer requirements for its cruise passengers.

"With our financial strength behind it, this is also a great opportunity for Polynesian Adventure Tours to build its overall business and increase its service to other customers in addition to NCL," Kritzman said.

Polynesian Adventure Tours President Jon Savitz, a 22-year veteran of the Hawaii ground transportation industry, will remain in that capacity. He will report to Kritzman and will work with Colin Murphy, NCL's vice president of land and air services.

"The company has an impressive list of longstanding clientele that includes most of the major tour wholesalers, local activity sellers and destination management companies," Murphy said. "We see this core customer base as a perfect complement to our shore excursion needs and we intend to deploy substantial resources in personnel, motor coaches and technology to make certain that our transportation needs complement theirs."

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