August 20, 2002
Last week's rumors are this week's news in the case of Norwegian Cruise Line's interest in "Project America." The company announces today that it has indeed contracted to buy both of the "Project America" ships, including one that's partially completed and another in which construction has not yet begun. "Project America," you may recall, was the much-ballyhooed U.S.-based shipbuilding effort launched by American Hawaii. Consisting of two ships, the contract with Northrop Grumman Ship Systems called for the first-in-a-long-long-time building of passenger vessels in an American shipyard (in this case in Mississippi). The ships were designed for Hawaii cruising, a region in which NCL has become quite dominant. At this point, NCL plans to transport the under-construction ship to a European shipyard and anticipates that the vessel will be launched in spring 2004. As that project is underway, NCL will evaluate the possibilities involved in completing the second vessel. The design of the as-yet-unnamed Project America ship will be altered slightly to fit in with NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" philosophy.