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NCL Still Likes Singles

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Studio Cabin on Norwegian Epic

Yeeesss!

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will have undoubtedly noticed that I have a particular interest in options for single cruisers.  This is, however, not a wholly altruistic penchant.  I have, on occasion, failed to take advantage of an opportunity to cruise because no one I know is in a position to travel with me.  Single supplements and the lack of camaraderie have deterred me.

I have been particularly excited by the effort Norwegian Cruise Line has made to appeal to single cruisers.  The whole “ship within a ship” environment they have created on the Epic with the studio cabins and the lounge dedicated to occupants of those cabins is very impressive.  There are few passenger ships in service with any single cabins at all, and none that come anywhere near the number that Epic has.

I’ve wondered how this would unfold.  When NCL stopped being coy last week and confirmed their order for two new ships, only slightly smaller than Epic, I anxiously watched for news about single cabins.  Information is still relatively scarce, but CEO Kevin Sheehan, in an interview in Travel Weekly, did re-affirm NCL’s commitment to single cruisers.  He is quoted as saying: “That’s a strategy that makes sense. [Singles are] an under-served group of people, and our brand meets that need. We care about that group of travellers.”

That’s good to hear.  Far too early to know how that sentiment will translate into the new ships’ designs, but encouraging nevertheless.

As an aside, one much-discussed Epic feature unlikely to be replicated on the new vessels is the peculiar scattered bathroom layout.  Excellent decision.

Technorati Tags: Cruise line, cruise ship, NCL, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Epic, single cabins, single cruisers, single travelers

The Rumors Are True

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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.

Technorati Tags: Cruise line, cruise ship, Kevin Sheehan, Meyer Werft, NCL, newbuilds, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Epic

Have You Heard The Rumor?

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Norwegian Epic

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.

Technorati Tags: cruise ships, Meyer Werft, Norwegian Cruise Line, Norwegian Epic, STX Europe