May 6, 2003
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that its new U.S.-flagged ships will fall under a spin-off brand name: NCL America. This is the umbrella name for its ships that will be all-U.S. crewed and U.S.-flagged. At present, the NCL America brand will include two ships sailing all-inter-island voyages (no trips to a foreign flagged nation like Kiribati's Fanning Island are necessary with the American flag). The first is no surprise; known internally as PA 1, it began construction under the helm of U.S. Lines' ambitious Project America and NCL bought the uncompleted vessel -- and resumed construction -- when the other line went out of business. An official name will be announced later. PA 1 begins service in July 2004 with seven night inter-island itineraries out of its Honolulu homeport. NCL's existing Norwegian Sky has been named as the second "NCL America" ship. Norwegian Sky will, when the time comes, be reflagged as an American ship and will hire an all-U.S. crew. Its itineraries will consist of three- and four-day inter-island voyages, again, from Honolulu. That ship will debut its Hawaiian cruises in October 2004. In the meantime, two more ships in the NCL fleet will also serve the Hawaiian market, though, as foreign flagged vessels, they'll be required to make the journey to Fanning Island. Norwegian Wind will return to Hawaii in May 2004, offering 10- and 11-day trips on a year-round, rather than seasonal, basis. Norwegian Star, which has been sailing 7-day Hawaiian itineraries, will continue offering the same trips though it will reposition to Alaska for the summer of 2004. Regardless of which flag each of these NCL ships flies, all will offer the cruise line's "freestyle" option.