Have you ever noticed that new cruise ships of any period, tend to be built a similar size to each other?
Let me explain: When I first started cruising in 1998, the definition of a mega-ship was around 77,000 gross tonnes.
Celebrities Mercury and Galaxy were around 77,000 gt and so were a number of other ships at the time, give or take a little bit. For example: Rhapsody, Enchantment, and Vision of the Seas, Norwegian Sky and Spirit were all of a similar size.
In 2004, for a period of a few years, many ship, like Cunard’s Queen Victoria, were around the 90,000 gt range, although Princess ships were around the 115,000 gt at the time.
However it’s not a mystery as to why:
Some ships are a similar design, or at least share the Hull design/size. P&O’s Arcadia (2005) is essentially the same ship design as Cunard’s Queen Victoria (2004) and Queen Elizabeth (2010), all are Carnival ‘vista’ Class.
Today (2016) I note that the future order books are being filled with newbuilds which are around an astonishing 200,000 gt.
183,000 gt – Courtesy of Costa.
Carnival are building Costa Cruises two 183,000 gt ships in 2019 and 2020. In 2018 and 2020, AIDA will also get two ships based on the same design.
The Mediterranean shipping Company (MSC Cruises) have announced four 200,000 gt “World Class” ships in 2022-2026.
Genting have just announced that they will build two “Global Class” ships in 2019/2020 for Star Cruises at 201,000 gt.
Global Class (Courtesy of Genting)
I’m sure that the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will also soon be following suit.
For those who don’t understand the maths, for comparison: the legendary ‘Queen Elizabeth II’ (QE2) was around 70,000 gt, and the ‘Marco Polo’ is a very modest 22,000 gt.
So Royal Caribbean’s ‘Harmony of the Seas’ is the world’s biggest cruise ship at 227,700 gt. but the other lines are fast catching up.
Harmony of the Seas
This is a golden age of ‘big’ ship building – these are the biggest moving objects ever made by man.
Papenburg, Germany: Meyer Werft laid the keel for Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy (Xǐ Yuè Hào) at its shipyard on the 5th April, 2016.
During the ceremony, the first of 80 blocks which will form the 168,800gt, 3,900 passenger vessels, was lifted into the assembly hall. This officially marks the start of building of the ship.
Norwegian Joy will feature luxury accommodation, Norwegian’s largest boutique shopping venue, various industry-firsts, including a Go-Kart tract on the upper deck and Hover Bumper Card. There will be a range of on-board entertainment and Mandarin, Cantonese and Continental dining options.
The Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has now revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Joy 喜悦号 (Xǐ Yuè Hào), its most innovative and luxurious ship ever, built and styled exclusively for Chinese guests, arriving Summer 2017. Home porting in Shanghai & Tianjin (Beijing).
Norwegian Joy was designed by the team at Norwegian Cruise Line to provide First Class at Sea experiences specifically for the Chinese traveller, with on-board amenities that cater to the unique holiday desires of Chinese guests. Built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, the ship features German precision engineering to the highest possible standard, while offering superior customisation for the culture and preferences of Chinese guests along with the exciting and innovative features found on Norwegian Cruise Line’s most recent vessels.
With a capacity of 3,900 guests, Norwegian Joy will deliver on the promise that guests will enjoy ‘First Class at Sea’ experiences, starting with her VIP accommodation. As the World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line, an honour bestowed upon the company by the World Travel Awards, Norwegian Cruise Line is known in the industry for offering innovative, stylish and first class accommodations. Norwegian Joy will feature The Haven by Norwegian®, the line’s exclusive, ship-within-a-ship suite luxury complex. Accessible only by personalised key card, The Haven offers a private respite for the most discerning travellers. It features a personal butler service, a dedicated concierge, priority access to entertainment and specialty dining, a private restaurant, enclosed courtyard and 74 spacious and meticulously decorated suites. The ultra-exclusive experience in The Haven on Norwegian Joy will also include an all-new Observation Deck featuring 180 degree views, the same as the ship’s officers experience from the Bridge, with gourmet canapés and premium beverages.
Norwegian Joy will also debut an all new accommodation category: the first at sea Concierge level. Guests who stay in the Concierge staterooms aboard Norwegian Joy will enjoy a VIP experience, featuring larger balcony staterooms with luxurious en suite amenities and the services of a dedicated concierge to make arrangements on board, from entertainment to dining. A perfect category for families and guests looking for extra personal service, the Concierge staterooms will also offer guests an exclusive Concierge lounge, with a private bar and refreshments available throughout the day.
The ship also features a wide array of mini-suite, balcony, ocean view and interior staterooms, many with virtual balconies, to fit every traveller’s need. Accommodation offerings also include staterooms designed specifically for families and a multitude of connecting staterooms, for extended families travelling together.
(All images courtesy of NCL)
Entertainment & Activities
Norwegian Joy will continue Norwegian Cruise Line’s long history of innovation in providing engaging, exciting features and amenities for guests to enjoy. Sure to delight guests of all ages, the ship’s top decks will offer a wide-range of never-before-seen at sea experiences.
At the very top of the ship, guests will take the ride of a lifetime on a thrilling two-level competitive racetrack– the first ever at sea. Cruisers can race family and friends in electric cars (a 5-6 minute course) and even share a photo of their first place finish. Afterwards, they can challenge one another to a game of laser tag in the open-air course, sure to be a hit with both kids and kids-at-heart.
When guests step inside Norwegian Joy’s Galaxy Pavilion, they will find themselves in a world unlike anything they’ve ever seen at sea, complete with immersive virtual reality experiences, thrilling simulator rides and interactive video walls. Guests can go for a spin with friends or family on exciting hover craft bumper cars or start their engines in a professional single-seat race car that’s been converted into a state-of-the-art racing simulator. Three interactive dark ride simulators provide guests with a captivating experience featuring real-time 3D graphics, 360- degree surround sound and multi-sensory special effects, while flight and car simulators will let guests take flight or take to the road for an adrenaline-filled experience. Movie buffs will be transported to a galaxy far, far away and into an intense battle as they pilot a fighter to take on the forces of the dark side in a Star Wars® battle pods video game, and gamers can partake in a contest of skill at six Xbox® console stations. Those guests who enjoy advanced technology will be exhilarated by state-of-the-art virtual optic experiences by Oculus that include designing and then riding a personal roller coaster; soaring to new heights over mountains and oceans; or living on the edge and walking along a cliff or on top of a ten-story building.
Galaxy Pavilion – Hover Craft Bumper Cars
Continuing the adrenaline pumping recreation activities on the ship, Norwegian Joy will also feature two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Double Aqua Loop free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and second see-through loop that stretches down to the deck below, sure to offer a wet and wild ride. The tandem Aqua Racer slide allows guests to race side-by-side on inner tubes for more than 360 feet as they twist and turn to the finish line.
The top deck of Norwegian Joy will also feature a tranquil open space park, where guests can enjoy a partially covered serene setting designed for relaxation. Offering greenery, a soothing pool and chaise lounges, it’s the perfect spot to meditate in the fresh air, gaze out to the open sea or practice tai chi and yoga.
Tranquil open space park
No holiday experience is complete without shopping, and Norwegian Joy will not disappoint. The ship will feature an upscale shopping venue, the largest in Norwegian’s fleet, complete with everything from exceptional duty-free shops to high-end international brands. The shops will offer renowned global luxury brands, in fashion, jewellery and electronics.
Of course, Norwegian Joy will also offer bow to stern Wi-Fi connectivity, the fastest in the Norwegian fleet, so that guests can share their exciting First Class at Sea cruise experiences and stay in touch with family and friends during their cruise.
Norwegian Joy fuses a western cruise holiday with the comforts and preferences that Chinese guests expect, plus the freedom and flexibility that only Norwegian Cruise Line can offer, for a fabulous combination of culture and cuisine and a true east meets west experience.
Malcolm says: NCL’s ‘Breakaway Plus’ and RCI’s ‘Quantum’ class ships have just become even more similar. RCI have obviously borrowed NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining concept and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’ on-board the Quantum class ships. Likewise NCL have obviously borrowed RCI’s bumper cars and the ‘Central Park’ ideas. However I doubt if the NCL version will have real plants.
Go-karts are at least an original idea. I believe the track will located in the space (or part of the space) that the rope-climbing course used to be located in. Both take away sun-bathing deck space, which these mega-ships often lack. I am surprised that NCL have been able to add these ‘innovations’ to an existing ship design.
I can’t imagine how hover craft bumper cars would work on-board a ship. I guess they will also be electric, but a large force is normally needed to get anything to hover, so they are also likely to be very noisy. I wonder if they are similar to these in this video: Hover Bumper Cars
In 2008 the Norwegian Cruise Line’s SS Norway was cut up on a beach, in Alang, India, and disposed of.
She entered service in 1962 as the ‘SS France’ Ocean Liner. She was the glory of France’s glory – a ship of state.
She was decommissioned in 1974 and left to rust in the era when the jet aeroplane replaced the ocean liner as the preferred meth of intercontinental travel.
However in 1979 she was purchased by NCL and renovated, returning back to service in 1980 as the then biggest Caribbean cruise ship. Although only medium sized by modern standards, It can be argued that she started the era of the mega-cruise-ship.
I was lucky enough to take her final Transatlantic crossing on the SS Norway, on 2nd September 2001, from Miami to Southampton. I know that many of you have very fond memories of this special ship. Why not join me?
You can read some background information here and my ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE
The Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled the English and Chinese names for the world’s first purpose-built cruise liner for the China market. The most innovative ship ever styled exclusively for Chinese guests has been named ‘Norwegian Joy’ – translating into Chinese as 喜悦号 (Xǐ Yuè Hào).The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the experience that the ship will offer — 尽享喜悦 海上乐园, a promise that guests will ‘Experience Paradise on the Sea’.
“After closely studying the Chinese cruise market for several years, we wanted to be clear about what we will deliver to our guests on this spectacular vessel,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Chief Executive Officer Frank Del Rio. “Norwegian Joy will provide the same sense of freedom and flexibility found on all Norwegian Cruise Line ships, but with resort-style vacation experiences and amenities designed specifically with the Chinese guest in mind.”
With a capacity of 3,900 guests, the new Breakaway Plus-class vessel will debut in China in Summer 2017. Norwegian Joy is designed specifically for the Chinese traveler, with cuisine and onboard experiences that cater to the unique vacation preferences of Chinese guests. This unrivaled customization for the China market has involved detailed consultation with Chinese partners and local experts on the subtleties of Chinese culture and preferences.
The upscale cruise experience especially tailored for modern Chinese travelers extends from world-class entertainment to a wide range of specially curated fine international dining, unrivaled duty-free luxury shopping at sea and a new range of incredible first-at-sea activities onboard.“Additional details, including the ship’s homeport, accommodations, dining and entertainment will be shared in the coming months.
(Courtesy of NCL)
Nuò Wéi Zhēn
In addition to the ship name, NCL has also revealed a new Chinese name and logo exclusively for the mainland China market. The company’s name will be represented by characters 诺唯真 (Nuò Wéi Zhēn), translating as a ‘Promising, Exclusive and Authentic’ cruise line, which perfectly reflects the company’s dedication to offering the premier cruise product in China.
To support NCL’s expansion in China, the company has opened offices in Beijing (Guomao CBD) and Shanghai (Xintiandi), supporting all three brands in the company’s portfolio – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced its ground-breaking summer 2017 deployment for Europe with for the first time in company history five ships sailing in European waters in the summer season and exciting news for guests looking to set sail from the UK. In addition the company revealed details on Norwegian Escape’s 2017 summer cruises to the Caribbean.
Marking Norwegian’s return to offering regular cruises from England for the first time since 2010, Norwegian Jade, one of the company’s four Jewel-Class ships, will feature brand new cruises from Southampton in 2017. From 12 May – 20 June and 7 August – 16 October 2017, UK guests can embark on a series of 11 Western Europe and three Norwegian Fjords sailings from/to Southampton, as well as two mini cruises for those looking for a shorter cruise experience, taking in many European highlights.
In addition, the cruise line will bring Norwegian Getaway, the second newest ship in the fleet, back to Europe for the first time since its delivery in 2014, giving guests the opportunity to experience the ultimate in freedom and flexibility on eight- or nine-night Baltic Capitals cruises from/to Copenhagen.
Three further ships will sail European waters in 2017, including the recently refurbished Norwegian Epic with her popular seven-night Western Mediterranean itinerary departing from Barcelona, Civitavecchia (Rome) or Marseille; Norwegian Spirit sailing alternating 11- and 10-night Grand Mediterranean cruises between Barcelona and Venice and Norwegian Star, which after her return from Australia will spend the summer cruising from Venice to the Greek Isles as well as the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey. The new itineraries go on sale in mid-February 2016 for all bookings.
“We’re clearly demonstrating our commitment to our European customers, especially cruisers in the UK, with these exciting summer itineraries. Not only are we offering the possibility to embark in Southampton but we are also bringing one of our newest and most innovative ships back to Europe”, says Christian Boell, Managing Director Europe, Middle East and Africa for Norwegian Cruise Line. “We’re convinced that this will encourage continued growth in the UK market, where we have just seen record breaking guest numbers in 2015.”
Norwegian Jade will arrive in Europe looking resplendent after a two-and-a-half-week dry dock to begin her regular cruises from Southampton on 12 May 2017 with a series of seven-night Western Europe itineraries visiting Hamburg, Amsterdam, Zeebrugge (Brussels/Bruges) and Le Havre (Paris), offered from 12 to 26 May and from 17 August to 21 September 2017. In addition there will be two nine-night cruises to the Norwegian Fjords on 2 and 11 June 2017 with stops in Hamburg as well as Ålesund, Hellesylt, Geiranger, Flåm and Bergen along with a 10-night Norwegian Fjords cruise on 7 August 2017 which also includes a visit to the Orkney Islands. A longer Western Europe itinerary of nine nights is offered on 28 September and 7 October 2017 with additional stops in St. Malo and Brest. On 30 July 2017, Norwegian Jade sets sail from Hamburg for an eight-night Norwegian Fjords cruise ending in Southampton.
Norwegian Getaway will return to Europe and sail one eight- and a series of nine-night Baltic Capitals cruises from Copenhagen from May to October 2017 with stops in Warnemünde (Berlin), Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm, including on the nine-night cruises an overnight stay in St. Petersburg, giving guests the opportunity to see all the splendour of the imperial capital of Russia in two days and add in a ballet performance or folklore show at night. As the second newest ship in Norwegian’s fleet, Norwegian Getaway brings the ultimate freedom and flexibility to the Baltic.
The recently refurbished Norwegian Epic will arrive in Barcelona on 14 April 2017, beginning her Europe season with a nine-night Canary Islands & Morocco cruise before resuming her popular seven-night Western Mediterranean cruises with stops in Naples (Pompeii), Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Cannes and Marseille. In addition to Barcelona, guests can opt to embark in Civitavecchia or Marseille. From Barcelona the cruise is offered every Sunday from 23 April to 1 October 2017. From 8 to 29 October 2017 Norwegian Epic sets sail for two alternative seven-night cruises between Barcelona and Civitavecchia which can be combined to a 14-night cruise visiting Palma, Mallorca; Sete; Marseille; Cannes; Livorno (Florence/Pisa); Civitavecchia (Rome); Naples (Pompeii); Cagliari; Granada (Málaga); Cartagena and Valencia.
Norwegian Spirit follows up her 2016/17 European winter cruises with alternating 11- and 10-night summer cruises in the Mediterranean between Venice and Barcelona. The 10-night cruises from Barcelona to Venice visit Monte Carlo, Livorno (Florence/Pisa), Civitavecchia (Rome), Santorini, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Piraeus (Athens) and Split and start on 4 May 2017, whereas calls on the 11-night cruises from Venice to Barcelona which start on 28 May 2017 are Dubrovnik, Piraeus (Athens), Kusadasi (Ephesus), Santorini, Civitavecchia (Rome), Livorno (Florence/Pisa) and Marseille. On 14 May 2017 Norwegian Spirit visits the Holy Land on a 14-night cruise from/to Venice which includes an overnight stay in Haifa as well as stops in Zadar, Kotor, Heraklion, Limassol, Alanya, Piraeus (Athens) and Split.
From 16 April to 22 October 2017 Norwegian Star will call Venice her home for the summer after her return from her long journey to Australia, and will set sail on alternating seven-night cruises to the Greek Isles and the Adriatic, Greece & Turkey, stopping in Corfu, Santorini, Mykonos and Ravenna (Greek Isles cruise) and Dubrovnik, Piraeus (Athens), Kusadasi (Ephesus) and Katakolon (Olympia) (Adriatic, Greece & Turkey cruise). On 9 July Norwegian Star visits Corfu, Santorini, Kusadasi (Ephesus), Piraeus (Athens) and Split on an eight-night cruise, followed by a six-night cruise on 17 July calling at Dubrovnik, Kotor, Corfu and Ravenna. On 29 October 2017, guests can look forward to a 10-night cruise from Venice to Istanbul including stops in Split, Kotor, Corfu, Messina, Valletta, Santorini and Kusadasi (Ephesus).
Norwegian Escape, Norwegian’s newest ship launched last October, will spend summer 2017 sailing alternating seven-night Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from Miami, starting on 6 May. The Eastern Caribbean itinerary includes stops in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas, whereas the Western Caribbean cruises visit Roatán, Honduras; Norwegian’s private destination Harvest Caye, Belize; Costa Maya, Mexico and Cozumel, Mexico.
Malcolm says: NCL clearly want a slice of the German market, the world’s 2nd biggest cruise market at 1.77 million passengers in 2015. In comparison 1.64 million Brits cruised in 2015, but this was slight drop on 2014.
Warnemunde will get one of NCL’s newer ship, ‘Getaway’. Hamburg will get 19 turnarounds from the older/smaller vessel, ‘Jade’. This will be the first time a US cruise line offers a season of full turnarounds in the north German port.
This also represents NCL’s return to offering cruises from a UK port, after seven years.
Norwegian Cruise Line has just revealed The Norwegian Edge™, an innovative program that promises to introduce a new standard of excellence that encompasses the entire guest experience, from ship hardware to culinary enhancements and exclusive private destination developments. The Norwegian Edge™ reflects a significant two-year $400 million investment by the company through 2017 and demonstrates the line’s commitment to exceptional quality and extraordinary experiences. The centerpiece of the program is an extensive ship refurbishment initiative that will elevate the experience on board the Norwegian fleet to this new standard.
The extensive ship revitalization program at the heart of The Norwegian Edge will completely transform many spaces on board nine of the fleet’s ships to reflect the premium look and feel of the line’s newest and most spectacular ships.
The refurbishment program began in October 2015 with a full refresh of Norwegian Epic that included the debut of brand new venues like The Cavern Club; complete restaurant makeovers in La Cucina and a new look for Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Moderno Churrascaria, The Manhattan Room and the Garden Café, now with a sleek and crisp white palette; and refreshed décor, furniture and flooring in many public spaces, including The Haven Courtyard, Lounge and Restaurant, for a more modern and clean design.
Norwegian Gem followed in November, debuting significant enhancements including a complete makeover of Bliss Lounge; extensive interior refurbishments; refreshing of décor including new furniture and new flooring in all specialty restaurants and several complimentary outlets, as well as bars and lounges, to reflect a more contemporary look; new pool deck furniture; interactive digital signage and wayfinding technology; new teak flooring throughout outdoor spaces and corridors of upper decks; and upgrades to The Haven Courtyard and Sundeck with a new look including more shaded areas, cabanas and lounge chairs.
Throughout the course of the refurbishment program, a total of seven additional ships will go into dry dock for both guest-facing and technical enhancements: Pride of America and Norwegian Sun in spring 2016; Norwegian Dawn in summer 2016; Norwegian Spirit , Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl in winter 2017; and Norwegian Jade in spring 2017.
As the innovator of freedom and flexibility at sea with no set dining times and up to 28 dining options per vessel, Norwegian understands that dining is central to guests’ vacation experience.
New for 2016, all ships in Norwegian’s fleet now offer upgraded complimentary dining room menus and the addition of optional à la carte priced items in the main dining rooms, such as grilled lobster tails and surf and turf entrees, providing guests additional choices and tastes to create their ultimate dining experience. The new complimentary dining menus offer an increased variety – featuring appetizers, soups and salads, featured entrees, and desserts. New offerings include more seafood selections such as fresh grouper, along with contemporary dishes like shrimp ceviche, seared Atlantic scallops with fennel puree, and braised beef short ribs.
Beginning on January 31, Norwegian will also be expanding the new specialty dining menus that debuted on Norwegian Escape across the fleet. The introduction of these new enhanced menus at the line’s signature specialty restaurants – Cagney’s Steakhouse, Le Bistro and La Cucina – along with new offerings at Moderno Churrascaria and Teppanyaki, will further elevate guests dining experience with more options new flavors. The menus include traditional French favorites at Le Bistro such as Bouillabaisse, pan-seared jumbo bay scallops and veal medallions with sauce morrel, and a more robust menu at La Cucina featuring antipasti, risotto and traditional secondi courses like Osso Buco alla Milanese or pan-seared sea bass filet.
Norwegian has further expanded plans for the line’s privately-owned destinations including the development of the Caribbean’s premier resort-style experience at Harvest Caye, Belize. This spectacular resort-style port of call will feature an expansive pool, exclusive beach, shallow lagoon for watersports, private luxury cabanas and many more exciting features, all in the richest ecosystems in the region with a diversity of flora and fauna that is core to the Harvest Caye experience.
Considerable new features are also in store for the line’s private Bahamian island, Great Stirrup Cay. The island was recently enhanced in 2014 and will debut several new offerings and high quality amenities for guests by spring 2017. Specific details will be announced later this year.
Malcolm says: NCL are moving away from a fixed surcharge for alternative dining (and some items on the complimentary menus) to an à la carte model. I don’t see this as an enhancement. Unless you are a very small eater, I can only see this as costing you more money. This cements NCL’s position as the market leaders in the ‘additional surcharge’.
I do enjoy NCL’s product and their amazing new ships, but this ‘nickel and diming’ (as the American’s say) might just backfire on them and the customers might vote with their feet and not book an NCL cruise. What do you Think? Comments welcome!
Malcolm says: The problem is that many gamblers enjoy a drink and a smoke. Epic, Breakaway, Getaway and Escape all have VERY open-plan Casinos.
I recall that when I cruised on-board Epic in her maiden season, her Casino stank of smoke. NCL’s biggest ships only have two stair towers, one forward and one aft. Passengers will often find themselves walking through the Casino to get somewhere else, so inadvertently breathed the smoke.