Last week, Aker Yard confirmed a contractual dispute with Norwegian Cruise Line over the construction of the first of two F3 vessels. NCL's innovative 4,200-passenger, 150,000-ton new-build was due out in 2010. According to the builder, the two sides were seeking a resolution. Since then, both have been tight-lipped.
But is NCL implicitly responding to the situation by tweaking their "about us" language -- a few sentences of company information included at the end of every NCL press release?
The change was made quietly, according to trade publication Travelpulse. What used to read "NCL is building two new Third Generation Freestyle Cruising (F3) ships for delivery in 2010" has become "NCL is building a new third generation Freestyle Cruising project known as F3, for delivery in 2010." (As earlier reported, Aker has stated that the current dispute only involves the first of two scheduled F3's, which fits with the new wording. The second F3 is scheduled to launch in summer 2010.) You can see the change by comparing a recent press release dated September 30 with a previous release by the company on August 20.
Moreover, NCL has removed the link to the special F3 micro-site from their Web site. The site itself, however, was still live at press time.
NCL declined to comment on the changes and what they indicate regarding the fate of the first F3 ship.
In other NCL-related news, the sale of Norwegian Dream by NCL's parent company Star Cruises to Greek-based Louis Cruise Lines has fallen through. Seatrade, an industry publication, reported that Louis cited "technical issues" with the ship as a reason for the collapse of the $218 million deal. So what does this mean for the future of Norwegian Dream? According to Seatrade, "Star Cruises has instructed brokers to put Norwegian Dream back on the market."
A spokesperson for NCL told Cruise Critic that Dream's last sailing as part of the NCL fleet is still scheduled for October 26.
Stay tuned for more information.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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More Hints on the Fate of F3; Dream Sale Falls Through
October 1, 2008