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

NCL’s Project Leonardo “Optimal Size”.

March 21, 2017



(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)


(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 Cruise Ship With Go-Karts

March 18, 2017

Not all ocean cruising is the same. It ranges from Fred. Olsen’s classic little ships (below), to giant floating ‘theme parks’:

See ‘Norwegian Joy’ float-out news: HERE

Norwegian Bliss

March 15, 2017

This video is a reminder that ‘Celebrity Edge’ is not the only mega-ship in the world.

Pride of America: NCL’s Highest Yielding Ship

March 10, 2017
(Courtesy NCLA)

(Courtesy NCLA)

President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank del Rio recently said, on the company’s fourth quarter and year-end earnings: “These benefits include Pride of America, the highest yielding ship in the Norwegian fleet, is in service for the full quarter, versus the prior year where she was in a 25-day drydock”


Malcolm says: That’s surprising news to me. I’ve always wanted to cruise inter-Hawaiian-islands with NCL, but the fares are quite high and the long-haul air fare from the UK would make it a very expensive cruise indeed.

‘Pride’ gets quite mixed review with the quality of food, mediocre service and small cabins being matters for some customer dissatisfaction. She’s a strange looking ships externally, but her American themed interiors have recently undergone a major re-fit.

A few years ago NCL said ‘Norwegian Epic’ was their best performing ship.  I was not surprised at that news, given the fact that ‘Epic’ is the biggest vessel in the NCL fleet, carrying more passengers. She  has more alternative (surcharge) dining venues that their other ships, so the potential for on-board income generation must be bigger.

The ‘NCL America’ brand was created to cruise the Hawaiian islands, but the brand has been fraught with operational difficulties. ‘Pride of America’ (2005, 80,439 gt) homeports in Honolulu.

I think NCL though that Hawaii would be the ‘new’ Caribbean and passengers would flock there in their millions. NCLA gained a monopoly to cruise inter-Hawaiian islands. They had three large ‘Us-Flagged’ ships operating in Hawaiian waters at one point. They even purchased the legendary ocean liner the ‘SS United States’, for their NCLA, which was in lay-up. They promised to renovate her and return her back to service, but of course they never did. However demand for Hawaiian cruises never did meet NCL’s expectations and ‘Prides’ two fleet mates were re-deployed to other parts of the world.

I understand that NCLA was not  very profitable originally, for three main reasons:

One: The deal with the Hawaiian authorities was that the ships crew must be largely America. Recruiting crew with the correct customer service ethos proved difficult. Also due to the high standards of living in Hawaii/USA the crew had to be paid first world wages.  (Traditionally cruise lines often employ third world staff on lower wages to maximise their profits.)

Two: The NCLA ships were not allowed to operate Casino’s in Hawaiian waters,  which are one of American ships most profitable areas of on-board income generation.

Three: NCLA was faced with higher staff costs, less on-board income generation, but had to offer completive fares with other cruises in American waters, such as the Caribbean.

So back to Frank del Rio’s opening statement saying that ‘Pride’ is their highest yielding ship. Although NCLA has had a turbulent history, the islands are acknowledged as being beautiful, ‘Pride’  still has a monopoly and she can command higher fares.

Any other suggestions as to how they turned things around and achieved this success will be welcomed.


Norwegian Joy Float Out

March 5, 2017

(Courtesy Meyer Werft)

The new NCL ship Norwegian Joy 喜悦号 (Xǐ Yuè Hào) was floated out of the Meyer Werft building hall on Saturday, March 4, 2017, Papenburg Germany.

The ship is 168,800 gross tonnes and will carry 3,900 passengers.

At the end of March, the Joy will make her conveyance along the Ems River to the North Sea. In the North Sea, the ship will begin sea trials before finally being delivered to NCL in April 2017.

The ship arrives in Shanghai in late June where she will serve the Chinese market all year-round.

(Meyer Werft)

Innovation or Nightmare?



On of the most unique features of ‘Norwegian Joy’  is on the ships upper deck. 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. (NCL)

Malcolm says: You can clearly see Norwegian Joy’s two-level go-Kart track on the sun deck. Is this your idea of an innovation or a nightmare?

(Courtesy NCL)

A rather crowded sun-deck (Courtesy NCL, click to enlarge)

The sun deck looks rather crowded to me, with it’s various facilities.

Innovation! (Norwegian Joy)

Norwegian Joy rendering (Courtesy NCL)

On one had Joy’s on-deck facilities impress me , but on the other hand where is the room for the sun loungers?  As somebody wise once said: “Whatever happened to just cruising”?

However ‘Joy’ is built for the Chinese market and I’m told that the Chinese are not big on sunbathing.

Del Rio allegedly said: Norwegian Joy is getting the first race track on board a ship, with two levels and eight turns that can race 10 cars at a time, 35-40 mph, but del Rio said Bliss will get a race track that is 20 percent longer and have 10 turns, two of which will be banked and cantilevered over the side of the ship. “I want to see somebody beat that” .


(Courtesy Cruise Industry News)

NCL: A Second Newbuild For China

February 23, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line’s as yet unamed newbuild, scheduled for delivery in late 2019, will be designated for the Chinese market.

She will be the sister ship of Norwegian Joy.

According to a statement, the decision has been based on the strong market interest in Norwegian Joy, which will enter service from Shanghai in late June this year.

The two 164,600gt ‘Breakaway Plus’ class ships are being built at Meyer Werft, shipyard, in Germany.


NCL – Up To Six New Ships

February 16, 2017

The Norwegian Cruise Line has announced it has reached an agreement with Fincantieri to construct the next generation of ships for the brand.

Four ships are on order for delivery in 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025, with an option for two additional ships to be delivered in 2026 and 2027.

The four 140,000 gross ton ships will each accommodate approximately 3,300 guests.

The new class of ships will build upon NCL’s most recent Breakaway-Plus Class ships and feature a host of innovative designs that will further elevate its guest experience.

A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimising fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment.

The contract price for each of the four vessels is approximately €800 million per ship.

Details on the ships’ many innovative guest-facing and first-at-sea features will be announced at a later date.


Innovation! (Norwegian Joy)

Innovation! (Norwegian Joy)

Malcolm says: So a change of shipyard from Meyer Werft, Germany, to Fincantieri, Italy.  Meyer Werft  must be disappointed, they have built most of NCL ‘s current fleet including their ‘Breakaway’ and ‘Breakaway-Plus’ ships.

This change of shipyard is not so surprising. In the past, new NCL CEO, Frank Del Rio, ordered some of the  Regent and Oceania ships from Fincantieri. (Del Rio was previously chairman and CEO for Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc., the parent company operating both Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.)  He obviously has a good relationship with the Fincantieri shipyard.

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 yard could share this design with other lines.


NCL CEO Frank Del Rio (Courtesy NCL)

If accurate, the new ships size is slightly smaller (6,000 gt) than NCL’s existing ‘Breakaway’ class and almost 25,000gt smaller that their ‘Breakaway-Plus’ class. It looks like they will carry 1,000 less passengers than ‘Breakaway-Plus’ too. NCL have effectively down-sized their  future product, when most of the other major cruise lines are up-scaling.

I would not surprise me if the new NCL ships resembled ‘MSC Seaside’, also a Fincantieri design.

I was expecting NCL to move to 200,000 gross tonne vessels in the next five years, like their competitors are: Carnival/Costa/P&O, MSC and Genting.  Obviously NCL have decided that bigger is NOT better.

It’s hard to imagine what “….a host of innovative designs “ might be.  I assume the vessels will still be packed with multiple dining rooms, due to the nature of NCL’s ‘Freestyle Dining’ system.  How much room will that leave for innovation?  I believe the ships will NOT be LNG powered, like some other lines future newbuilds will be.

However, I do think it will be a very long time  before more details will be made available.


(Courtesy Fincantieri)

Norwegian Escape Review HERE

Norwegian Bliss – Observation Makes A Comeback HERE

NCL Adds Cuba Sailings

February 8, 2017
(Courtesy NCL)

(Courtesy NCL)

The Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it will extend its offering of weekly roundtrip cruises from Miami to Cuba.

Together with the five previously announced cruises, 25 additional cruises have been added.

Norwegian Sky will sail four-day roundtrip cruises from Miami each Monday, commencing in May, until December 2017.

Each cruise features an overnight stay in Havana as well as a day-call to Great Stirrup Cay, NCL’s private island in the Bahamas.


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)



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.


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

XXL – Is The New Standard

October 30, 2016
(Genting's Global Class)

(Genting’s Global Class)

Have you ever noticed how 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 be building a ship bigger than anybody else’s (normally Royal Caribbean). However in general the big players are influenced by each other.

I can remember some 20 years ago (mid to late nineties), when many mega-ships were being built at 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.

In about 2005, many megaships built for NCL, RCI, P&O and Cunard etc. we’re around 90,000 gt. Although Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 had pushed the boundaries in 2002, to 148,000 gt .

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) continues to dominate in size and probably will for some years to come.

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

The 180,000gt Costa LNG ship

However the goal-posts have moved once again. We now see a new wave of ships in the order book for 2019 onwards, which are 180-200,000 gt in size. These new mega-ships, or maybe they should be called ultra-ships, will each carry up to 6,600 passengers.

  • Carnival has announced that they have ordered seven 180,000gt mega-ships: two for Costa, two for Carnival, two for AIDA and one for P&O to be delivered between 2019 and 2022.
  • Genting Hong Kong announced they have ordered two new ships for Star Cruises in 2019 and 2020. These ships will be 201,000 gross tons.
  • MSC Cruises announced that they would be ordering up to four new class cruise ships, called the “World Class”. These would be around 200,000 gt and would be delivered between 2022 and 2026.

Carnival, Genting and MSC are clearly catching up to Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class.

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

Older/smaller tonnage will be retired. Cruise ships rarely have a life longer than 30 years. This means that most of the cruise lines fleets, have ships growing in size. What was once a megaship (say 70,000gt) look like a ‘medium’ sized vessel now, maybe even a ‘small’ one.

Megaship are packed with facilities, including multiple dining rooms and multiple entertainment venues, even a few gimmicks throw in like a Park or Bumper cars. However bigger is not always best. These floating theme parks 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 mega-ships.

Megaships are also limited to what ports they can visit as 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 passenger arriving at a Caribbean island (for example) has on the local environment.

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

As a result the existing smaller/older ships will be facing extinction. 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.


(There are reviews of some of the world’s biggest ships, menu right)