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River cruise line, Haimark, is expanding into small-ship cruising, with its first ocean vessel, MS Saint Laurent, launching in May next year.

The company, which was founded in June 2013, already boasts a fleet of five river ships – three of which set sail in September on Asian itineraries and two more scheduled for 2015 deployment in Asia and the Peruvian Amazon.

Now, the line is planning its first small-ship adventure, with 204-passenger MS Saint Laurent.

Previously known as Sea Voyager, the ship will undergo a $3.5 million refurbishment before joining the line for North Atlantic Coast and South and Central America itineraries.

Managing partner of sales and marketing, Thomas Markwell told Cruise Passenger there is a natural connection between river and small-ship cruising and it’s the type of sailing travellers want to experience.

In fact, it’s so popular among cruisers that 50 percent of the ship’s 2015 departures are already sold out.

“River and coastal cruising share many of the same qualities such as; unpack once, visiting areas not accessible by large vessels; and intimate boutique-like on board environment,” he explained.

“We can see by our very early success in our river cruise products that we are offering tour operators and agents exactly what their guests are looking for.”

Mr Markwell said the ship is a four-star plus coastal cruising vessel.

9. Owner's Suite

Changes on board include new carpeting, furniture and decorations. Image: Haimark Line

During renovations she will receive new carpeting, draperies and bedding. Cabins will be fitted with new flat screen TVs, lighting and artwork and all outdoor furniture will be changed.

She will also receive six Zodiacs to offer guests an expedition style of cruising.

And who will be on board?

Mr Markwell says there’s a lot of demand from the US market, but he is also expecting a strong response from Australians.

“We have a very strong Australian contingent of guests booked on our river cruise programs,” he explained.

“All of our cruises aboard MS Saint Laurent are either nine- or- 12-night cruises, they are well-suited to the Australian market when paired with our optional pre and post land programs.”

Deck plans, images, itineraries and pricing will be released later this week. Until then click on the thumbnails below to see renderings of the ship.