Archive for the ‘Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)’ Category

Norwegian Bliss Sets Panama Canal Record

May 15, 2018

 

(Courtesy NCL)

The Panama Canal today welcomed the new Norwegian Bliss, the largest passenger vessel to ever transit the waterway, according to a statement.

“The Panama Canal is proud to welcome the Norwegian Bliss and recognizes that this distinct milestone is made possible by the Canal Expansion, as well as the experience and efforts gained in the two years since its inauguration,” said Deputy Canal Administrator Manuel Benítez.

(NCL)

Silversea Orders Silver Dawn

(Courtesy Silversea Cruises)

Silversea Cruises announced it has awarded Fincantieri with an order for another ultra-luxury cruise ship, with delivery scheduled for Q4 2021.

The contract is valued at over €320 million, according to a statement. The ship will be a sister to the 2017-built Silver Muse and 2020-built Silver Moon.

The ship will be 40,700 tons with capacity for up to 596 guests at double occupancy.

(Silversea)

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NCL: New PortMiami Terminal

April 27, 2018

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings today celebrated the ‘groundbreaking’ of the new and dedicated Norwegian Cruise Line terminal at PortMiami.

The Miami-Dade County Board of Commissioners approved the project on April 10, 2018, with construction beginning May 1.

At nearly 166,500 square feet, the Norwegian terminal will accommodate ships of up to 5,000 passengers and will feature state-of-the-art technology to support faster and more efficient embarkation and disembarkation, the company said, as well as expedited security screening and luggage check-in. 

(NCL)

Bliss Observation Lounges

April 22, 2018

Bliss is not unlike the other NCL Breakaway and Breakaway+ ships in her basic design. Although the decor and bars/dining rooms have new branding in many cases and the Go-kart track is unique to Bliss (and Joy).

However Bliss (and Joy) have the addition of a couple of nice observations lounges, not included on other ships in the series.

Bliss Go-Karts

April 21, 2018

Norwegian have made quite a big thing about their Go-karts on-board Norwegian Bliss (and Joy). For example: “Guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship”. and “The competitive track, the longest at sea at nearly 1,000 feet, will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns, reaching up to 30 miles per hour”.

Now I’ve not seen the facility on-board myself, but videos are beginning to appear on YouTube.

I must say it all looks to be a rather “sedate” experience. It hardly looks like a “pedal to metal” experience. Mind you maybe the peddles were on the metal, but the-horse power was missing. I have not seen anything that looks like 30 mph in the videos. As for “competitive” – overtaking looks very difficult without much acceleration and speed.

However these are electric cars, they are not Formula 1 cars. They have to be pollution free and relatively quiet, after all the track is on the sun deck. (I bet the sunbathers do not appreciate the lost space!)

However I’m still surprised how slow they appear to be. I don’t think they will be needing that high fence – I can’t see the cars leaving the track!

Malcolm

NCL Takes Delivery of ‘Bliss’

April 20, 2018

Bliss in Emshaven (Aad Hoogesteger: cruisefans.nl)

Norwegian Cruise Line has officially taken delivery of the new 167,800-ton Norwegian Bliss in Bremerhaven, Germany, following a handover from Meyer Werft shipyard.

The Norwegian Bliss is the 11th ship built for Norwegian Cruise Line by the Papenburg-based shipyard.

Following the delivery, the ship will sail for Southampton, where the ship will be presented to the public for the first time. After a crossing, she will be previewed to media and VIPs in New York, and christened later in May in Seattle ahead of her debut summer season in Alaska.

The Details

Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed features and amenities for Norwegian Bliss, the line’s sixteenth ship. Bliss will sail to Alaska and the Caribbean with select voyages to the Mexican Riviera beginning in June 2018. Custom-built for the spectacular, Norwegian Bliss will boast many firsts at sea for the global market place.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Bliss is currently being constructed at MEYER WERFT in Papenburg, Germany and is scheduled for delivery in Spring 2018.

Imagine Exhilaration

Norwegian Bliss will boast excitement around every corner and delight guests with thrills, with activities spanning the entirety of the ship’s top deck. Following overwhelming popularity aboard Norwegian Bliss’ sister ship in China, Norwegian Joy, guests will be able to put the pedal to the metal for the first time aboard a North American-based cruise ship with a two level electric-car race track. The competitive track, the longest at sea at nearly 1,000 feet, will rev up the hearts of all who race around her many twists and turns, reaching up to 30 miles per hour — with a special “turbo boost” available on each lap. The electric cars run silent so as to not disturb those seeking to enjoy the serene environment. But guests will have the full racing experience while they channel their inner Andretti, as the sounds of a race car engine are piped in through speakers located in the car’s headrest.

(Courtesy NCL)

After burning rubber at the race track, guests can test their agility at the open-air laser tag course. Themed as an abandoned space station, the course comes to life both day and night as guests go into stealth-mode and compete against family and friends with state-of-the art laser guns.

After working up a sweat, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can cool down at the ship’s expansive pool and sundeck featuring two spacious pools and six infinity hot tubs that scale the side of the ship. The ship’s Aqua Park also includes two multi-story waterslides. Not for the faint of heart, the high-speed Ocean Loops free fall slide includes two exhilarating loops, one that extends out over the side of the ship and a 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, with a translucent section that provides stunning ocean views as guests twist and turn to the finish line.

Junior cruisers can splish, splash and have a blast at the Kids’ Aqua Park, a watery wonderland of splash pads, water cannons, tipping buckets and slides. The little ones will also have a blast at Splash Academy, the fleet’s award-winning complimentary youth program. Centrally-located on Deck 5, Splash Academy will offer age-appropriate supervised activities for children aged three to 12 with fun and energetic programming including games with the conservation-minded Officer Snook, a circus spectacular celebration, jungle-themed nights and more. Teens aged 13 through 17 will enjoy their own space aboard Norwegian Bliss on deck 5, Entourage, adjacent to the ship’s arcade. The exclusive teen space features plush lounge furniture, gaming stations, foosball, air hockey and a dancefloor with neon lighting, as the space transitions to the hottest teen nightclub at sea in the evening hours. Even tiny cruisers, ages six months to just under three years old, will have an dedicated space to enjoy aboard Norwegian Bliss with the fleet’s largest Guppies playroom, where Early Years Coordinators will host sensory-play activities for parents and babies including messy play, exploration, music and movement. In line with its youth programming across the fleet, Norwegian Bliss will offer a wide range of family-friendly activities for guests to enjoy including family balloon twisting, interactive games and the Family Glow Party.

Imagine Delectable

Foodies and cocktail connoisseurs will be able to dine, sip and savor to their heart’s delight with a breadth of dining and bar options aboard Norwegian Bliss, including signature Norwegian favorites as well as exclusive new concepts that will debut aboard the line’s newest ship.

Modern décor and premium ingredients will meet southern flavors at the all-new Texas Smokehouse, Q, where guests will be able to tap their boots to the beat of live contemporary pop country music each night as they indulge in authentic Texas barbeque in a sleek urban setting. The new à la carte specialty restaurant will infuse an explosion of flavors in every bite with a selection brisket, ribs, chicken and sausages and more freshly smoked over hickory, oak and pecan woods. Q will offer generous portions of sides and starters including deviled eggs with natural air cured ham, pickled jalapeños, fresh cheddar and breadcrumb-crusted mac-n-cheese, baked sweet potatoes smothered in pecan honey butter and cinnamon and more. Guests can round out their meal at Q with a mason jar of fresh banana pudding or indulge in bread pudding in whiskey sauce.

The flavors aboard Norwegian Bliss will travel south-of-the-border with Los Lobos, an outpost of the brand’s new restaurant serving elevated Mexican cuisine that made its debut in 2016 aboard Norwegian Dawn during her extensive dry dock enhancement under the Norwegian Edge, the brand’s investment program that encompasses the entire guest experience. Los Lobos will offer an upscale, modern take on traditional favorites like fresh guacamole prepared tableside, al pastor tacos, enchiladas de mole, handcrafted margaritas featuring private-label Patron Barrel Select, Norwegian’s own tequila blend, and more. Featuring indoor and outdoor seating located on deck 8 aft, Los Lobos will be adjacent to Cagney’s Steakhouse, Norwegian’s incredibly popular signature American-style steakhouse that serves up choice cuts of Hartley Ranch Premium Black Angus Beef including the larger-than-life 20 oz. Porterhouse, an incredibly tender 8 oz. filet mignon and signature ribeye. Between Los Lobos and Cagney’s Steakhouse, The A-List Bar, named for Norwegian President & CEO and 30-year veteran Andy Stuart, will serve handcrafted cocktails, wines and premium spirits.

The Manhattan Room (NCL)

Sweets and treats will be served up day and night at Coco’s, a completely new à la carte dessert venue located on deck 6 in the heart of the ship, 678 Ocean Place, where liquid chocolate in an enclosed oversized chocolate fountain will adorns its entranceway, delighting kids and kids at heart. The chocolate-themed dessert restaurant will feature handmade pralines, truffles, crepes and other decadent treats paired with fine coffees and teas.

In a nod to the ship’s homeport of Seattle, guests aboard Norwegian Bliss can warm up for their glacier walk with a Caramel Macchiato or grab a Teavana® Shaken Iced Green Tea Lemonade to sip on while lounging on a pristine Caribbean beach with a full service Starbucks® store on board. Guests can start their day with Starbucks® coffees, teas and bites available à la carte.

Norwegian will bring together the best of its specialty dining experiences aboard Norwegian Bliss with signature à la carte restaurants including French cuisine at Le Bistro; the tastes of Tuscany at La Cucina; the finest fresh seafood at Ocean Blue; global fusion cuisine featuring sushi, dumplings, handhelds and more at Food Republic; Cheeseburgers in Paradise® at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville® at Sea; and handmade cupcakes and macarons at The Bake Shop. Teppanyaki, the brand’s family-favorite Japanese hibachi steakhouse will also be onboard at cover charge pricing.

Norwegian Bliss will serve up premium quality cuisine with fresh ingredients in all complimentary dining venues with rotating menus curated by the brand’s coveted culinary team. In a new complimentary dining concept, The Local will offer guests pub fare in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere 24 hours a day.

Norwegian’s original beverage concepts will round out the ship’s culinary offerings. The District Brew House will serve 24 beers on tap and more than 50 bottled beers, along with bites from the adjacent Food Republic. Local favorites on tap at The District will include craft beers from Red Hook Brewery and Elysian Brewery in Seattle as well as Wynwood Brewery and M.I.A. Beer Company in Miami. The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar will offer a curated wine list featuring 35 grape varietals including top selections from Washington-area vineyards, Tuscany and Michael Mondavi’s own Napa Valley Estate, as well as light bites from La Cucina. Wine will come to life at The Cellars with interactive educational seminars and tastings daily. Paying homage to her homeport cities, Norwegian Bliss’ beverage program will also feature a selection of local craft cocktails developed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey as well as Miami-based Gabe Orta, one of the master curator’s behind the city’s ultra-popular BarLab concepts.

Imagine Tranquility

After glacier trekking in Alaska or discovering hidden caves and sea pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda in the Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss guests will be able to revive, refresh and recharge at the ship’s Mandara Spa. Located on deck 16 aft, the Mandara Spa will offer the ultimate pampering experience with 24 treatment rooms, a full-service salon and barber shop, fitness center and thermal suite. The Fitness Center will offer latest state-of-the-art TechnoGym® cardiovascular and strength training equipment, as well as personal training and group fitness classes including TRX, Norwegian Fight Club, RYDE Cycle and more. The ship’s expansive thermal suite will be an exclusive enclave of relaxation where guests can soothe aching joints in the vitality pool and heated whirlpool; rinse off and clear mind and spirit in special experience showers; reduce inflammation and improve respiratory functions in the salt room; cleanse the body in the steam room or sauna; cool down in the snow room; or catch up on their latest reading on one of the 17 heated stone loungers. Passes to the exclusive enclave of relaxation will be available for purchase for a limited number of guests each sailing.

In addition to the luxurious spa, adults will be able to unwind in two private lounge spaces while cruising aboard Norwegian Bliss at Vibe Beach Club and Spice H2O.

1 (1).jpg

(Courtesy NCL)

Imagine a New Scene

During her inaugural summer season, Norwegian Bliss will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Pier 66 in Seattle, where she will be the largest and most innovative ship to ever seasonally homeport on the West Coast. Unlike any other ship sailing the West coast, Norwegian Bliss will feature the brand’s most celebrated elements of freedom and flexibility including 678 Ocean Place, a three-deck central hub where the pulse of the ship’s action takes place with restaurants, shops, entertainment and guest services all conveniently located in one area. Also a first for a ship on the West coast will be The Waterfront, a popular feature that debuted on Norwegian Breakaway in 2013; the outdoor promenade is designed to enhance guests’ connection to the ocean with al fresco dining, bars and lounge spaces and offer spectacular views of Alaska’s breathtaking scenery and wildlife or the Caribbean’s stunning turquoise waters.

Norwegian’s vibrant nightlife scene will be taken to the next level aboard Norwegian Bliss with live entertainment, electrifying deck parties at Spice H2O and an expansive casino featuring hundreds of slot machines and table games to suit the likes of novice and pro gamblers alike. In a first for Norwegian, the casino will now offer a smoking and a non-smoking casino to cater to all guest preferences.

Norwegian Bliss’ custom design will offer guests the freedom and flexibility to “imagine Bliss” and create their ideal experience at sea, with a wide variety of accommodations including luxurious suites in The Haven by Norwegian®, Studio staterooms for solo travellers with virtual ocean views, and new connecting staterooms ideal for large groups and families travelling together. Norwegian Bliss will also feature an incredible lineup of entertainment offerings including the Tony-Award winner for “Best Musical” Jersey Boys and two observation lounges, including the exclusive Horizon Lounge for guests of The Haven®, perfect for whale watching in Alaska or taking in sunsets in the Caribbean, and more. Continuing its tradition of featuring original artwork on its ship’s hulls, Norwegian Cruise Line has commissioned Wyland, one of the world’s premier marine life artists, to design the hull art for Norwegian Bliss.

(NCL)

The SS Norway Remembered

March 31, 2018
SS Norway in Southampton waters 2001

SS Norway in Southampton waters, 2001

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

Malcolm

NCL Celebrates Encore Steel Cutting

February 6, 2018

(Courtesy NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line has marked the start of construction for its newest ship – Norwegian Encore.

The latest addition to Norwegian’s fleet, will sail the Caribbean from Miami, seasonally beginning in the autumn of 2019.

She follows Norwegian Bliss, which will launch in April this year.

At approximately 167,800 gross tons and accommodating 4,000 guests, Norwegian Encore will sail weekly seven-day Caribbean cruises.

Encore will be the seventeenth ship in the NCL fleet and the line’s fourth and final ship in the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful Class in the brand’s history.

Encore is, however, currently the last vessel NCL plans to build at Meyer Weft, with construction of the new generation of ships, the Leonardo class, moving to Italy.

(NCL)

Rise Of The Clones

January 5, 2018

SS United states (Top) and SS America, United States Line (Source unknown)

Ships Of State

In the era of the great Ocean Liners, each country that had the resources and know-how designed and built themselves unique ships. These were ‘ships of state’, each representing their country.

For example the UK had the likes of the Titanic and later the Cunard Queen’s ‘Mary’ and ‘Elizabeth’. France had their wonderful ‘Normadie’ and ‘France’. American had their ‘America’ and ‘United states’. Each ship represented their respective countries engineering achievements, excellent design and the finest decor and artwork.

Today cruise ship are much more generic and the design can actually be shared across different cruise brands. In fact the only differences in some cases, may be the funnels, livery and internal decor.

We are going to see even more ‘clones’ over the next few years.

‘Made to measure’ or  ‘off the peg’?

Carnival have shared ship designs between their brands for many years now: P&O have several Princess designs. Cunard have two generic Carnival ‘Vista’ class ships and P&O has one. P&O’s next mega ship (184,000 gt) is a design shared with Costa, AIDA and Carnival cruises. Cunard will be getting a new ship in 2022, a design shared with ‘Holland America’.

Surprisingly the Norwegian Cruise lines next class of cruise ship, called ‘Project Leonardo’, is not a new a class of ship designed by themselves either. It has been designed by the Italian shipyard Fincantieri.

I guess the advantage of this approach is that it must save development costs and time as the shipyard has already done the hard work.   However the disadvantage is that the shipyard can share this design with other buyers and it appears that they already have!

On closer inspection NCL’s ‘Project Leonardo’ looks remarkably similar to MSC’s ‘Seasisde’ also designed by Fincantieri.

However I believe Leonardo is shorter than Seaside, so will have a smaller gross tonnage and carry less passengers. Seaside is 154,000 gross tonnes and carry  4,140 (lower berth) passengers. Leonardo will be 140, 00 gross tonnes and carry around 3,300 passengers.

Seaside has a glass covered pool in front of her funnel, Leonardo appears to have a non-covered one in this location (for the Haven?) This may leaves just one sun-deck pool aft?

The big attraction of this ship design is the very large promenade deck, which is probably more expansive than NCL’s excellent ‘Waterfront’ feature found on-board their Breakaway and Breakaway+ classes.

I do find it a little sad when different cruise brands share a ship design. It just lacks originality.

I was going to say that Leanardo will be quite different internally to Seaside, as she will be designed to accommodate NCL’s ‘Freestyle’ dining system with multiple dining rooms.  However looking at Seaside’s deck plans (HERE) there are three full decks and two half decks of restaurants and other public rooms. I guess little will need changing apart from the décor and branding. I guess that was part of the appeal of using Fincantieri’s existing design.

Malcolm

*(Why is the project called ‘Leonardo’, anybody?)

NCL’s Project Leonardo “Optimal Size”.

March 21, 2017

 

nclproject_2

(Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Cruise Line has ordered at least four 140,000 tonne, 3,300-passenger Project ‘Leonardo’ ships from Fincantieri. These will be delivered from 2022 through to 2025.

This news represents a downsizing  from the recent Breakaway+ class ships at 163,000 gross tonnes, carrying 4,300 passengers.

Speaking on the company’s year-end earnings conference, President and CEO Frank del Rio called it an “optimal size”.

“The size of these vessels provides an optimal balance between deployment flexibility and earnings potential, allowing us to add new ports of call worldwide while maintaining a strong return profile with a payback of roughly five years, in line with our most recent newbuild,” said del Rio.

The ships will also allow Norwegian to redeploy existing vessels to other domestic and international homeports, where the company does not yet have a presence, according to del Rio.

(Cruise Industry News)

nclproject_3.jpg

(Courtesy NCL)

Malcolm says: Interestingly this new class of ship is based on a prototype developed by Fincantieri, and NOT by NCL, as in the past.  I guess the advantage of this approach truly guarantees a new design of ship. However the disadvantage is that the ship can share this design with other lines. ‘Project Leanoaro’ is clearly a slightly smaller version of MSC ‘Seaside’,  also designed by Fincantieri.

It’s curious  how one management team must have thought that 163,000 gt (Breakaway-Plus) is an ‘optimal size’, yet the next team think 140,000 gt is better. However many experienced cruise passengers have expressed their opinion that modern cruise ships are getting too big, although the new NCL ships are hardly small.

It depends what sort of experience that you are seeking. I personally think that mass-market ships can benefit from being very big – there is simply more room for for public rooms, facilities and innovations. The ‘Oasis’ class (the world’s biggest) is an amazing design.   However a ship of say 30,000 gt can provide you with a more intimate experience that a mega-ships cannot compete with.

I was expecting to see an 200,000 gt NCL design to be delivered within the next decade. It looks as if I’m wrong.

Project Leonardo slide show: HERE

The Worlds biggest class of cruise ship review: HERE

Norwegian Escape Review HERE

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

A Question Of Decor

October 9, 2016

Cruise ships often have more impressive décor than most shore-side buildings.  In fact it is often braver décor than most buildings have.

Many ships also have impressive art collections on board. Some ship even have art work on deck and sport impressive hull-art.

(Quantum's Bear - RCI Image)

(Quantum’s Bear – RCI Image)

How important is a ships décor really is to the passenger experience?

Cruise lines obviously think that the décor is VERY important, given the fact they spend millions of pounds/dollars on it and regularly undertake refurbishments, re-styling the decor.

I’ve certainly been on board ships where I  have loved the décor . I’ve also been on board ships where the décor has not generally been to my liking. However sometimes different public rooms are created by different designers, so it is very possible to love some rooms, think some are mediocre and dislike others – all on the same ship.

There certainly used to be a different between UK and US style  décor on-board ships.

P&O Orian Interior (1995, Courtsey Ian Boyle)

P&O Orian Interior (1995, Courtesy Ian Boyle)

For example P&O ships décor was regarded as rather tasteful to the reserved and often very traditional Brits, when compared to the Las Vegas ‘glitz’ of many American ships. However by American tastes it was understated’ or even bland.

Since Carnival acquired P&O and provided new mega-ships, we have seen more vibrant décor for British passengers. There have also been frequent visits of big US ships to UK ports offering cruises for Brits. I believe the British cruising masses are getting acclimatised to a more bold colour schemes and more glitz.

Carnival Sensation Atrium by J. Farcus (Courtesy Carnival)

Carnival Sensation Atrium by J. Farcus (Courtesy Carnival)

Joe Farcus, the American Navel Architect, has designed some mind-blowing interiors for Carnival and Costa ships. He calls it ‘Entertainment Architecture’. It’s very original, very colourful and often very loud.  It’s Las Vegas ‘Glitz’ in style with maybe a hint of psychedelia. His work is definitely not to every-bodies taste.

Décor and ‘taste’ changes over time, of course. I think the pure-glitz has gone out of fashion and in some cases is being replaced with a more sophisticated cappuccino-café style, as I call it.

For example the ‘Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) ships built between 2001-2007 (Star, Jade, Gem etc.) all have very colourful décor in places, not unlike Farcus’s work.

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL)

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL)

However NCL’s ‘Norwegian Edge’ which is a $400 million revitalization program of their fleet, will see the décor updated.  For example, the image above is Norwegian Gem’s original Atrium décor. Below is the refurbishment which less over-the-top, being more sophisticated.

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL) Refurbished

Norwegian Gem (Courtesy NCL) Refurbished

So how important is the décor to you? Have you been on board a  ship where the décor was not to you liking? Do you love some ships décor?  Please tell me.

Malcolm