Norwegian Cruise Line is changing up ship itineraries ... for the second time this month. The cruise line, which recently pulled the Pride of Aloha from the Hawaii market, announced today that it will keep the Norwegian Jade in Europe year-round through Spring 2010 rather than send it back to North America in November. Norwegian Jade will be the first NCL ship to offer year-round Europe cruises.
As you may remember, Norwegian Jade used to sail year-round Hawaii cruises under the name Pride of Hawaii. It has been renamed and reflagged, and will begin its inaugural season in Europe on March 30. Since Europe is such a hot cruise destination, NCL has chosen to scrap its original plan for the Jade -- part of the year sailing Europe and part of the year sailing the Caribbean and Bahamas -- and keep the ship in Europe full-time.
NCL has released three new itineraries for Jade; from November 2008 through April 2009, the ship will homeport in Barcelona and offer 12-night Eastern Mediterranean cruises, nine-night Canary Islands and Morocco cruises, and one 14-night Eastern Mediterranean holiday cruise. The new voyages go on sale March 3, 2008. Though the line has committed the ship to Europe through Spring 2010, itineraries beyond April 2009 have not yet been announced.
We're interested to hear reports about how a ship built for cruising Hawaii fares during a European winter. NCL smartly has the ship visiting warmer Southern and Eastern Mediterranean ports to avoid the winter chills, but no enhancements -- like retractable domes for the pool decks -- are planned.
If you're currently booked on Norwegian Jade's December 12 two-night weekend cruise, you will receive a full refund and a $25 per-person future cruise credit. If you're booked on the 12-night trans-Atlantic cruise, or a 7-, 10-, or 11-night cruise from New York departing from mid-December 2008 through April 2009, there are several options:
Guests may switch their reservations to a comparable sailing on Norwegian Gem for the same price. You'll receive a $100 onboard credit per person (up to $200 per cabin), and NCL will pay up to $100 per person in air change fees and up to $50 per person for hotel change fees. Air and hotel booked through NCL will be protected at the original rate.
Guests may opt to switch to a different NCL sailing and will receive a $50 onboard credit per person (up to $100 per cabin).
Guests may choose to cancel their cruise for a full refund.
All changes must be made by March 14, 2008; after that date, all remaining reservations will be canceled. Pre-booked guests should contact their travel agent or call NCL at 877-474-2960 (Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. EST) to rebook or cancel their cruise. Given the number of people affected and that reservations agents may still be helping Pride of Aloha passengers rebook their cruises, expect long hold times when you call NCL. We recommend calling early in the day to avoid getting disconnected and practicing patience as agents rush to accommodate everyone as best they can.
--by Erica Silverstein, Associate Editor
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NCL Homeports Jade in Europe Year-Round
February 27, 2008