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

P&O’S Iona: Freedom Dining Only

October 13, 2018

P&O Cruises giant new ship, ‘Iona’,  is due to commence operating from her UK home port of Southampton, from May 2020.

Iona will be around 180,000 gross tonnes and will carry up to 6,600 passenger.

However, many P&O faithfuls were shocked to here than Iona will offer ‘Freedom Dining’ only.

A P&O’s statement said:

“As part of a new approach to dining, Iona will exclusively offer Freedom Dining in all of its main restaurants, a first for P&O Cruises. The move is designed to give more flexibility to each and every guest. They can choose just where and with whom they want to eat, and when they will sit down for breakfast, lunch or dinner.”

The History Of Flexible Dining

Now, the Norwegian cruise Line (NCL) invented flexible dining and they call it  ‘Freestyle Dining’. They have been operating it on their whole fleet for over two decades.

Even on-board NCL’s largest new mega-ships, ‘Freestyle’ generally works pretty well. However Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ‘borrowed’ the idea for their then new ‘Quantum of the Seas’ ship (2014) and called it ‘Dynamic Dining’. The plan was to extend ‘Dynamic’ to all the Quantum class ships and retro-fit it to other ships in their fleet to accommodate the system, including the ‘Oasis’ class. However RCI’s customers just didn’t like it and RCI COULDN’T make it work for them.

Personally I think ‘Dynamic Dining’ made the RCI experience feel too much like NCL one, with multiple dining rooms rather than one big/impressive main restaurant. RCI lost their identity. After all if RCI customers wanted to cruise NCL, they would.  RCI have since dropped the ‘Dynamic Dining’ concept completely.

I hope that P&O do better with their roll-out of ‘Freedom Dining’ on-board Iona.

More About Iona’s Dining

P&O announced: “The clean lines of the design will offer incredible views through the three storey high glass walls of the Grand Atrium and will also be open for quick and convenient breakfasts,” 

There is also a new “foodie market” as The Quays piazza will be home to a wide range of self-service and “takeaway” venues, with a lively atmosphere for sociable dining. 

P&O said the ship will offer 30 food and beverage venues. 

Other highlights include the The Glass House with small plates, charcuterie and cheese as well as around 40 wines by the glass chosen by wine expert Olly Smith; the British-Med specialities in Epicurean; contemporary fine dining Indian in Sindhu and the best of British in Brodie’s among a long list of restaurants, self-service choices, cafes and bars.

P&O Past and Present

Before being owned by Carnival, P&O used to be a very traditional line, which included the dining: Their ships had one main dining room and two fixed seating times at around 6.00 and 8:00pm.

However a ‘Freestyle’ system fits in better with the modern attitudes to life – many passengers (especially the younger generation) now find the fixed dining times just too regimented. The dress codes on just about all ships/lines are also being softened.

It is also worth bearing in mind that ‘Iona’ is a Carnival ship that other the Carnival brands: AIDA, Costa and Carnival will also be getting. The design of the dining rooms/dining system was probably NOT up to P&O at all – the design had to satisfy all four brands.

Iona will have FOUR main dining rooms and many alternatives.

I think it is increasingly difficult to have one big main restaurant on a ships carrying up to 6,600 passengers. Having said that, Royal Caribbean’s ‘Oasis’ class manages to achieve this. Their ‘Oasis’ class ships carry 5,000+ passengers and still have one main dining room and two sittings, plus some alternatives.

Personally I love to see a ship with one big/main opulent dining room with a double or triple height ceiling. Many Royal Caribbean ships and Cunard’s ‘Queen Mary 2’ have excellent examples.

‘Allure of the Seas’ Dining Room (RCI Image)

In conclusion

The ‘old’ P&O cruise line which once attracted the more mature ‘socks & sandal’ brigade is rapidly evolving.

P&O are morphing into another mass-market line, with some of the worlds biggest ships,  which need to attract younger passengers, including families, to fill such big ships such as Britannia and Iona.

Traditions will be abolished to achieve this, whether the die-hard fans like it or not. Let’s hope that P&O do not “throw the baby out with the bath water”.

I do wonder how different the Iona experience will really be, from an RCI or NCL one?


Q: Will you miss the tradition of fixed dining time and one main restaurant? Or is ‘freedom Dining’ the way forward?



The SS France Returns Home

October 1, 2018

The SS France is back in Le Havre, France. The city recently unveiled the ship’s prow, which is now installed by the city’s waterfront and cruise terminal.

The SS France was a Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (CGT, or French Line) ocean liner, constructed by the Chantiers de l’Atlantique shipyard at Saint-Nazaire, France, and put into service in February 1962. At the time of her construction in 1960, the 316 m (1,037 ft) vessel was the longest passenger ship ever built, a record that remained unchallenged until the construction of the 345 m (1,132 ft) RMS Queen Mary 2 in 2004.

The France was purchased by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) in 1979, renamed SS Norway and underwent significant modifications making her better for cruising purposes. She was arguably the first mega-cruise ship, mainly deployed in the Caribbean. She was sold and scraped in late 2008.

(Le Havre Tourism)

Malcolm says: The SS France was a magnificent ship of state for France. She was later converted into a cruise ship called the SS Norway, for NCL, but still retained much of her Ocean Liner appeal. I was lucky to be on-board her in 2001,  for her final transatlantic crossing from Miami to Southampton. She was one of the last ocean liners from the golden era.

A serious boiler explosion caused a loss of passenger confidence and effectively ended her career.  However so many people have very fond memories of this ‘classic’ ship. I suppose we should be grateful that her prow is in Le Havre, but France (or somebody) should have saved the rest of her!

SS Norway’s ‘Final Transatlantic’ review: HERE

NCL Summer Itiniaries 2020

September 19, 2018


The Norwegian Cruise Line, has opened their summer 2020 itineraries for 11 of its 17 ship

Alaska – Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Jewel

Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Jewel will sail to Alaska in summer 2020, as the youngest and most exciting fleet in the region. Sister ships, Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss, return to the state with seven-day cruises from Seattle, Washington beginning May 9 and May 10 respectively. In Alaska, Norwegian Joy will call to Holkham Bay, Icy Strait Point, Juneau, Ketchikan, and in British Columbia, she will call in Victoria. Norwegian Bliss will call to Glacier Bay, Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, Alaska as well as Victoria, British Columbia.

Rounding out the Alaskan fleet, beginning May 11, Norwegian Jewel returns to Vancouver, British Columbia and Seward, Alaska to sail her incredibly popular seven-day Glacier Bay Northbound and Inside Passage itineraries.

Europe – Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Dawn, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Epic

Norwegian Escape will make her European debut on May 29 offering nine-day cruises to the Baltic region from Copenhagen, Denmark with calls to Warnemünde, Germany; Tallinn, Estonia, Helsinki, Finland; Stockholm (Nynashamn), Sweden and an overnight in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Norwegian Escape will be one of the newest and largest Norwegian ships to homeport in Europe offering guests flexibility and choice with over 27 dining options, 21 bars and lounges, Broadway-style entertainment and more.

For the first time, beginning May 15, Norwegian Dawn will cruise from Europe offering seven-to-eleven-day sailings to the Greek Isles from Venice, Italy. From May 8, Norwegian Getaway will offer ten-and-eleven-day cruises to the Greek Isles and Italy from Rome (Civitavecchia), Italy. Both Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Getaway will visit Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos, Greece, among other Mediterranean cities. Norwegian Epic’s European summer 2020 itineraries will open for sale on October 16, 2018.

Bermuda – Norwegian Encore and Norwegian Gem

Following her inaugural season in the Caribbean, Norwegian Encore will reposition from Miami, Florida to New York City offering seven-day cruises to Bermuda beginning April 22, while Norwegian Gem will offer seven-day voyages from Boston to Bermuda beginning May 1. Both ships’ seven-day itineraries overnight in port offering guests three days in Bermuda.

Caribbean – Norwegian Breakaway

Beginning April 23, Norwegian Breakaway returns to Miami with a selection of five-and-seven-day cruises to the Western Caribbean visiting Roatan and Bay Islands, Honduras; Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; and the resort-style island destination of Harvest Caye in Southern Belize. She will also sail a variety of three-and-four-day cruises to the Bahamas calling to Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island.

Bahamas & Florida / Canada & New England – Norwegian Pearl

As of May 23, for the first time, Norwegian Pearl will homeport in New York City offering select seven, ten and eleven-day cruises to Canada and New England with calls to Halifax, Nova Scotia; Saint John, New Brunswick; Bar Harbor and Portland, Maine; and Newport, Rhode Island. She will also offer seven-day voyages to Bahamas and Florida with visits to Port Canaveral, Florida; Nassau and Norwegian’s private island paradise, Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas, which will have recently undergone enhancements as part of Norwegian Edge®, the company’s commitment to elevating the standard of excellence across its fleet and resort-style destinations.

Hawaii – Pride of America

Pride of America will continue cruising her seven-day inter-island itinerary that offers nearly 100 hours of port time in Hawaii’s main islands, including calls in Hilo, Kona, and overnight stays in Kahului, Maui and Nãwiliwili, Kauai with an afternoon cruising past the breath-taking Nãpali Coast. Norwegian’s Pride of America will depart from Honolulu every Saturday beginning May 1, 2021 through April 2022.


Norwegian Encore Hull Art Revealed

September 11, 2018


The Norwegian Cruise Line has revealed that Eduardo Arranz-Bravo, the Spanish artist, has created the hull artwork for the fourth and final ship of its Breakaway-Plus class, Norwegian Encore. The cruise ship is due to debut in Miami in November 2019.

A representation of his modern and abstract style, the ship’s hull will feature a “labyrinth of color” inspired by Arranz-Bravo’s life by the sea in Barcelona and pay tribute to the vibrant guest experience for which the Norwegian brand is recognised, the company said.


Malcolm says: I don’t mind NCL’s hull art because it is very distinctive, however I would not want to see it on all cruise ships. Personally I preferred ‘Norwegian Escape’s ‘ hull art by Guy Harvey, with it marine life theme, to Encore’s which does not have a theme (to me anyway).




NCL Confirms Fifth & Sixth ‘Project Leonardo’ ships

July 13, 2018

Even more big ship news:

July 12, 2018 – Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. today announced it confirmed its previously announced options for the fifth and sixth Project Leonardo Class ships with the Fincantieri  shipyard, Italy, for Norwegian Cruise Line for delivery in 2026 and 2027.

“These orders extend our disciplined and measured newbuild program and strong growth trajectory well into the future and will further drive long-term returns for our shareholders,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “Our six ship Leonardo Class fleet will allow us to broaden our deployment into strong performing and mature unserved and underserved markets and offer new experiences to our guests.”

At 140,000 gross tons and accommodating approximately 3,300 guests, this next generation class of ships will build upon the highly successful offering of freedom and flexibility found across Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, including the most recent Breakaway Plus Class ships, and feature a host of inventive designs that will further elevate its already award-winning guest experience. A priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. The smaller footprint will also broaden deployment opportunities around the world. Details on the many innovative guest-facing and first at sea features will be announced at a later date.

“Following the Breakaway Plus Class, the most successful class in our Company’s history, the highly anticipated Leonardo Class will fuel future growth with exciting and innovative offerings that will meaningfully drive demand from new and loyal returning guests alike,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line.

With today’s announcement, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has seven ships on order for Norwegian Cruise Line and one for Regent Seven Seas Cruises for a total of eight vessels for delivery through 2027. The Company will take delivery of its newest ship, Norwegian Encore, in fall 2019.


Malcolm says: This new ships are based on the Fincantieri MSC Seaside design.  NCL Leonardo compared to MSC Seaside: HERE

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’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