(12:15 p.m. EDT) -- During an early-morning press conference at the 28th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference, Norwegian Cruise Line revealed details on Norwegian Breakaway's restaurant-packed, indoor-outdoor passenger hub.
The vessel, the first of two 144,000-ton, 4,000-passenger Breakaway-class ships, will debut in April 2013; a sister, Norwegian Getaway, will launch in spring 2014.
Breakaway will introduce two symbiotic spaces: The Waterfront, an outdoor "boardwalk" with eight al fresco dining venues and lounges, will be located on what's traditionally a Deck 8 promenade; it will connect to 678 Ocean Place, an elongated, three-deck atrium running the length of the ship. 678 will house restaurants, bars, the casino and shops.
Options on the Waterfront -- a space Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian's president and CEO, said was inspired by the desire to reconnect passengers to the sea -- include terrace seating at a trio of for-fee restaurants found on other NCL ships: Moderno, a Brazilian-style churrascaria; Cagney's, the line's signature steakhouse; and La Cucina, its Italian specialty restaurant. A pair of signature Norwegian bars -- Maltings (beer and whiskey) and Shaker's (martinis and other mixed concoctions) -- will also make their outdoor debut.
A new-to-Breakaway venue will be Ocean Blu on the Waterfront, an outdoor adjunct to Ocean Blu (the line's first dedicated seafood restaurant). Ocean Blu on the Waterfront will feature a raw bar and sushi option, and will have a takeaway menu. The line will also debut its first gelato shop. The extra costs for the frozen treats or ocean grub have not yet been determined.
Additional outdoor venues will also be revealed at a later date.
Given the al fresco focus, questions were raised by reporters about wind and chill -- Breakaway will homeport year-round from New York, and January sailings will require more than a day of potentially cold weather travel. Sheehan said that heaters or some warming equivalent would be part of the plan, especially during the winter months.
As to the wind, he assured the audience that sea breezes wouldn't pose a serious problem. "Studies have been done on wind velocity to the point that we are told that it will be fine all of the time," he said, "but I suspect that at the end of the day, with some weather patterns, passengers would incline toward the indoors."
Back inside, 678 Ocean Place will feature some 17 dining options, the ship's 18,000-square-foot casino, and 12 bars and lounges. A number of the venues found on Norwegian's most recent new-build (the 155,873-ton, 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic) or on previous ships will make encore appearances on Breakaway, including O'Sheehans, a 24-hour pub with free bar food, and the aforementioned Moderno, Cagney's and La Cucina.
The two-deck Manhattan room, one of three complimentary "main dining rooms," is also back. Like its sister version on Epic, the venue features a central floor space for dancing and entertainment, backset by a two-deck-high wall of windows. The other two main dining rooms are Taste and Savor. Menu details will be announced at a later date.
The one new dining venue found on Breakaway will be NCL's first seafood restaurant, the aforementioned Ocean Blu. The four-in-one venue will feature a traditional seafood restaurant, a raw bar, a sushi spot and a Waterfront space.
On Deck 6, passengers will find more bars and lounges, a multilevel big-screen TV (viewable from O'Sheehans), the shore excursion and guest services desk, and the art gallery. Entertainment and retail options, which will also be part of Ocean Place, will be revealed later.
With the number of Breakaway restaurants levying surcharges, Sheehan responded to the inevitable question about for-fee vs. included dining options. Norwegian is credited with the invention of the alternative dining concept, and all of the line's ships have 10 or more restaurants, more than half of which carry an extra cost (from $10 to $30 per person). "There are plenty of complimentary options," said Sheehan, who added that Breakaway will have more complimentary dining options than any other cruise ship.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor