NCL Withdraws Pride of Hawaii from ... Hawaii
When Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of Hawaii sails its first cruise in Europe next year, it will have a fresh coat of paint and a new name: Norwegian Jade.
Just last week, NCL announced that it would take the ship (part of its U.S.-flagged NCL America sub-brand) out of Hawaiian service effective February 2008, citing downward pricing pressure in the Hawaii market. Pride of Hawaii will enter wet dock in Honolulu on February 6 for a series of modifications including new hull artwork and the addition of a casino (forbidden when the ship was registered to the United States; the ship will be re-flagged to the Bahamas for its Europe run). The ship will then be renamed and showcased during inaugural events in both Los Angeles and Miami.
After a series of repositioning cruises, Jade will sail 12-, 13- and 14-night Eastern and Western Mediterranean itineraries, arriving in Barcelona for its first cruise on March 30, 2008. Departures from Barcelona, Istanbul and Athens (Piraeus) throughout spring will visit ports including Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, and Venice, Italy; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Ephesus, Turkey; Mykonos, Santorini, Iraklion, Crete, Corfu and Katakolon, Greece; and Alexandria, Egypt.
After the spring, Jade will reposition to Southampton for several sailings out of the U.K. designed specifically for the local U.K. market -- a first for the cruise line. This series of cruises will visit the Mediterranean, North Cape, Western Europe and British Isles. For example, a 12-day North Cape itinerary roundtrip from Southampton will cruise the North Sea with several stops in Norway, cross the Arctic Circle and cruise by the Svartisen Glacier. A 13-day Around the British Isles and Northern Europe itinerary will visit France, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
Norwegian Jade will be one of three NCL ships in Europe in 2008 -- the line's largest ever European deployment -- sailing alongside sister ships Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Gem. According to a company statement, Jade will stay through the end of November; what will happen after that remains to be seen.
Stay tuned to Cruise Critic for the latest.
--by Melissa Baldwin, Senior Editor