A steel cutting ceremony for the Celebrity Reflection was held at the Meyer-Werft Shipyard last week, when the first steel plate was cut for the new vessel. The ship will be the fifth and last of Celebrity’s very popular Solstice class, scheduled for delivery in November 2012.
Celebrity Reflection represents the culmination of the Solstice class, incorporating and expanding on the features that have been so well received by passengers. The ship, at 126,000 gross tons, will be the largest of the class. She’ll have an additional deck and 72 additional cabins, accommodating 3030 passengers at double occupancy. More than 90% of the cabins are outside, and approximately 90% of those will have balconies.
Among the highlights, the ship will feature 34 AquaClass Suites, measuring 251 square feet with a 57 square foot balcony. Michael’s Pub will be enhanced with the addition of up to 50 international craft beers, and outdoor grilling will be offered in the new Lawn Club Grill.
Artist Rendering of New Ship
Well, the rumors that I wrote about last month have now been confirmed. Norwegian Cruise Line has reached an agreement with Meyer Werft to build two new ships for delivery in Spring 2013 and Spring 2014. Coming in at 143,500 tons, the ships will be the largest built in Germany.
The contract price for the two ships is 1.2 billion euros. NCL has estimated the passenger capacity for the ships will be 4000 double occupancy, but some industry insiders are suggesting it will be closer to 4050 passengers. The Norwegian Epic is 9% larger than these newbuilds, but carries only 50 more passengers. The ships’ design is said to be a bit sleeker and more traditional than the boxy Epic, but there will be less space per passenger than found on Epic.
The contract represents a major expansion for NCL, increasing passenger capacity by 30%. This is a bit of a departure from the line’s conservative approach of recent years, and is the first new order under CEO Kevin Sheehan, who took over in 2008.
“We have always been focused on a disciplined approach to capacity growth. Our decision to add two new ships reflects the significant progress we have made in improving our operating performance and repositioning the Company over the last several years, as well as the strong market demand we are seeing for Norwegian Epic and our other ships,” said Sheehan. “Building on the incredible success and popularity of Norwegian Epic, we are taking the best of what our newest ship has to offer, as well as drawing on our legacy of innovation in the cruise industry, in creating a new class of Freestyle Cruising vessel that is sure to provide our guests with the unparalleled freedom and flexibility they have come to expect on a Norwegian cruise.”
With the Epic, Norwegian Cruise line positioned itself at the forefront of innovation in the cruise industry. It will be interesting to watch as these two ships develop.
Rumors swirled about the cruise industry over the weekend that Norwegian Cruise Line has signaled its intention to build at least two, and perhaps three, new ships. NCL would take delivery of the first in 2013. The contract is said to be with Meyer Werft, the German shipbuilding enterprise. The new ships will represent a new class within NCL’s fleet, and are thought to be planned to come in a bit smaller than the Norwegian Epic.
If true, this would represent a bit of a twist in NCL’s recent history. Norwegian Epic was constructed at STX Europe’s French facility, the first of what was envisioned to be two or three Epic class ships. One of the proposed ships was cancelled early on in the process, and construction was halted altogether at one point while NCL and STX Europe ironed out a dispute. Construction eventually resumed with a new agreement, but the second proposed ship was cancelled. Ultimately Epic sailed out of the yard, her fire plagued construction completed, as the lone example of her class.
NCL has been quite conservative in their shipbuilding, taking delivery of only one new ship in the last three years. They were willing to walk away from two others, when circumstances and the economy suggested they do so. They’ve also proved themselves to be quite innovative with their ships. Their success with Epic has raised the bar for them. I’m anxious to see what they come up with next.