Norwegian Cruise Line and STX Europe, which have been in dispute over plans for the innovative F3 series of ships, have resolved their disagreements, according to an announcment from NCL.
As a result, the cruise line will now build just one ship, rather than the pair that it had previously planned on. The 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger ship is under construction at STX France in St. Nazaire. It's scheduled to debut in late May 2010.
Production on the second ship had barely started. STX Europe's Torbjorn Andersen tells us that while preparations were in place to build the ship (the design was ready and materials had been ordered), a work stoppage over the past few months kept the project from progressing to the point where the actual construction had significantly begun.
As we've reported previously, the months-long disagreement began when NCL balked at additional fees assessed after it had asked STX France to make design changes. The original design of what NCL has long called its F3 project was just as innovative for what it lacked -- main dining venue, lido buffet, stadium-sized theater -- as its more novel features (such as futuristic-style staterooms and a plethora of outdoor nightclub and dining options, among others).
It has long been rumored among industry insiders that F3's innovation will be scaled back. STX Europe's Andersen told Cruise Critic today that "there are practical implications when a design is altered during project execution. Generally speaking, a change to the design is never sort of a minor thing." Andersen added that "NCL is very keen to present a total overview about that."
On the cruise line's part, NCL spokeswoman AnneMarie Mathews tells us that "everything is still the same in terms of things we had already announced for F3. We plan to announce more details in the next few months."
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor
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December 18, 2008