|Rumors running rampant on Cruise Critic and industry publication Cruise Business Review that NCL would abandon plans to transfer Pride of Aloha to Star Cruises were spot on. NCL today announced that the ship, to revert back to Norwegian Sky, its original name, will head to Miami where it will sail three- and four-night Bahamas cruises.|
The former Norwegian Sky was transferred to NCL's Hawaii spin-off as a last-minute fill-in for Pride of America, which had been damaged while under construction at its German shipyard. Renamed and redecorated, the "new" Pride of Aloha has been sailing all-Hawaii cruises since.
NCL had announced in February that the ship would be transferred out of the fleet entirely -- and returned back to Star Cruises, the cruise line's then sole owner. It had been planned that Pride of Aloha would depart NCL's fleet on May 11.
The ship will still leave Hawaii -- only now it'll go to drydock, where a casino will be re-introduced and, presumably, the Kumu Cultural Center will be removed. The "new" Norwegian Sky will also receive the Freestyle 2.0 upgrades being rolled out fleetwide; the enhancements include new menus, upgraded staterooms, innovative onboard activities and service initiatives.
While the concept of NCL starting short Bahamas cruises is intriguing, what's most interesting about this recent move is that Andy Stuart, NCL's marketing chief, told us in February that the ship didn't merit the investment of upgraded amenities. Now, it appears the ship is simply being moved to a potentially more profitable region -- suddenly warranting the upgrades.
Norwegian Sky will begin its Bahamas sailings on July 14. The ship will depart Miami on Mondays for the four-night trip -- with calls at Grand Bahama Island, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay, NCL's private island. The three-night cruise, leaving on Fridays, will visit Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. The schedule will be in effect at least through mid-April 2009.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief