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

Norwegian Bliss Floated Out Today

February 17, 2018

(Courtesy Meyer Werft)

NCL’s new vessel, Norwegian Bliss was floated out of the yard’s building hall today, at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany.

The 4,200-passenger ship debuts in the Alaska market this June.

The Bliss is the third of four Breakaway-plus ships, following the Escape and Joy, with Encore set to enter service in 2019.

Encore will be the last of this ‘class’ before the introduction of the ‘Leonardo’ class,  the first of which is scheduled for delivery June 2022. The rest to follow in 2023, 2024 and 2025, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.

(NCL)

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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?)

XXL – Is The New Standard

December 30, 2017
(Genting's Global Class)

Genting’s Global Class (201,00 gt)

Have you ever noticed how the major cruise lines tend to build similar sized ships?

O.K, there are exceptions where a luxury line will build a smaller ship. There are also exceptions when a cruise line will build a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general, the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember in the mid to late nineties, when many mega-ships were around the 75,000 gross tons, in size. For example, RCI’s five ‘Vision’ class ships and NCL’s ‘Sun’ and ‘Spirt’ classes. Although Carnival (Destiny, 1995) and Princess (Grand Princess, 1998) pushed the boundaries with vessels over 100,000 gt.

Around  2005, many megaships, such as those of NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

However Royal Caribbean’s 225,000 gt ‘Oasis of the Seas’, which entered service in 2008, was the world’s largest cruise ship. She was considerably larger than anything else. The ‘Oasis’ class (Oasis, Allure and Harmony, Symphony and one as yet unnamed) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 184,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We are now seeing a new wave of ships, in the order book for 2019 onward, which are around 180-200,000 gt in size.

  • Carnival has ordered seven 184,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting has ordered two new “Global” class ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be around 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises will be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These will be around 200,000 gt and carry up to 7,000 passengers. They will be  delivered between 2022 and 2026.
  •  Royal Caribbean will have a new class of ship called project Icon, to be delivered in 2022.  The project is so secretive,  all we really know is that the ship will be 200,000 gt and carry around 5,000 passengers.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class, although still not superseding it.

However this constant race for size, is not without its issues.

Most cruise lines fleet have ships which are growing in size. Economies of scale make bigger ships more profitable to operate. What was once called a mega-ship (say 70,000gt) looks like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaships are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms, multiple entertainment venues and even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Go-Kart track. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks often lack intimacy and a ‘connection’ with the sea. Arguably the world’s best cruise experiences, in terms of fine-dining and attentive service, are not to be found on-board such big ships.

Megaships are also limited to which ports they can visit. They need long berths, deep water and extensive shore-side terminal facilities to deal with the thousands of passengers that they carry.

There is also much debate about the impact thousands of passengers arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) will have on the local environment.

Irrespective of  the negative aspects, the big ships are still coming thick and fast. The ‘masses’ love them. They almost generate their own publicity. A new “Giant Ship” makes a great news headline.  A new “Small Ship” does not.

As a result of the introduction of so many big ships, the existing smaller/older ships will face extinction within the next ten years. However there will always be some intimate ships on offer, but these are likely to get rarer and will become an increasingly expensive option to cruise on.

Malcolm

Ferrari Go-Karts At Sea

April 19, 2017

(Courtesy NCL)

The world’s first go kart complex at sea will enter service soon aboard NCL’s Norwegian Joy.

The track was put together by German karting technology specialist RiMO Supply and Dutch decking specialist Bolidt.

Norwegian Cruise Line has unveiled a new partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Watches, a division of Italian carmaker Ferrari, that includes the Ferrari-themed Go Kart track.

The 168,800 gross tonne, 3,850-passenger vessel also will feature a retail store next to the track that sells Scuderia Ferrari watches.

The Ferrari race track will accommodate up to 10 drivers at a time who will race each other in electric Go Karts

(Courtesy NCL)

See full ‘Cruise Industry News’ story HERE

(Courtsey NCL)

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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

Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback

February 3, 2017
Bliss (Courtesy of NCL)

Two Observation Lounges (Courtesy of NCL) Click to enlarge.

Norwegian Cruise Line has released some details about its next ship ‘Norwegian Bliss’ (a Breakaway-Plus class ships), which will enter service in June 2018.

Bliss will accommodate 4,000 passengers and will be based in Seattle during the summer and cruise the coastline of Alaska.

Her itineraries will include stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria. In the winter she will be deployed in Caribbean waters.

The most notable feature will be two forward-facing observation lounges, designed to offer the best views.

The Haven Observation Lounge

Built for the spectacular vistas of Alaska and The Caribbean, Norwegian Bliss will offer guests staying in The Haven exclusive access to a 2-story observation lounge, spanning decks 17 and 18 with expansive, panoramic ocean views, overlooking the front of the ship.

Haven Observation Lounge (Courtesy NCL)

(Courtesy NCL)

(Courtesy NCL)

Deck 18 (Courtesy NCL)

The Observation Lounge

Imagine sheer amazement from our revolutionary observation lounge offering the most expansive views at sea.

(Courtesy NCL)

(Courtesy NCL)

 

2017_bliss_deck_15_tmp011017

Deck 15, above the Bridge (Courtesy NCL)

The Observation Lounge is also located at the front of the ship, deck 15 and provides the same stunning views directly above the bridge and features a full service bar for guests to sit back, relax and take in the views.

(NCL)

Malcolm says:  An observation lounge is such a simple concept: sit, relax and watch the sea and land pass by. However many megaships, including some NCL ships, had dropped the facility from their designs some years ago. It’s almost as if looking at the sea had gone out of fashion.

It’s very nice to see ‘observation’ making a comeback. When coupled with NCL’s ‘Waterfront’ feature, the opportunities for views and fresh-air are excellent for such a large ship design.

NCL’s Waterfront, see: 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

The SS Norway Remembered

March 20, 2016
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