The new design -- termed project "F3" -- represents NCL's third generation of Freestyle Cruising ships, and will offer 60 percent more passenger space than the line's next-largest vessels.
Preliminary details reveal one major distinction for these ships, and that is that 100 percent of outside cabins will feature balconies. In total, the ships will have 1,415 balcony staterooms and suites; both ships are being built for Freestyle Cruising worldwide, including the Caribbean and Europe.
At the cruise line's annual Seatrade press conference earlier this year, NCL's President Colin Veitch hinted that a new class of post-Panamax ships was on the horizon -- but at the time, said it wouldn't be until at least 2010. Now it appears one "F3" new-build will squeak through in the fourth quarter of 2009, with the next scheduled for launch in 2010.
The ships will be the first built at Aker Yards' recently acquired yard in St. Nazaire (formerly Chantiers de l'Atlantique), though the group is no stranger to mega-ships. According to Aker, with this order it has built or is building the 12 largest cruise ships in the world, including Royal Caribbean's mammoth Freedom of the Seas.
According to a company statement, this is the largest order in NCL's 40-year history, costing approximately $2.8 billion. The contract includes an option for a third vessel.
See what other new-builds are on order!
--By Melissa Baldwin, Associate Editor