NCL Continues Major Fleet Reorganization

May 25, 2006

Norwegian Cruise Line, which has long pledged to completely overhaul its fleet by 2010, takes a few more steps toward that goal with the announcement that it will sell Norwegian Crown to Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.

The sale will be effective as of August, but NCL's parent company Star Cruises will charter the ship from its purchasers so that Norwegian Crown's already announced deployment will continue until November 2007.

Founded in Norway, Fred. Olsen currently operates four ships: Black Prince; Black Watch; Braemar; and Boudicca, which recently joined the fleet (stay tuned for a ship review). The line, now based in the United Kingdom, has carved a niche for its small ships that offer a clubby, cozy, English country house atmosphere.

For NCL, Norwegian Crown's announced departure comes on the heels of news that Norwegian Wind will be transferred out of the fleet. That ship will depart in April 2007 and will head to Hong Kong, where it will operate under Star Cruises as SuperStar Aquarius.

Norwegian Crown has undergone several incarnations in its history. Built in 1988, the 34,250-ton 1,050-passenger ship sailed under Royal Cruise Line's banner before its acquisition by NCL, which first named the ship Norwegian Crown, then transferred it to sister line Orient as Crown Odyssey. Orient subsequently shifted the vessel back to NCL where it reclaimed its Norwegian Crown moniker.

Norwegian Crown sails summer and fall Bermuda voyages from Philadelphia and New York this year (and next) and heads to South America for the winter.

NCL may be shedding its older ships but by no means is the fleet shrinking. Next on the horizon is the introduction of the still-under-construction 93,000-ton, 2,384-passenger Norwegian Pearl in late fall of this year; a sister ship, Norwegian Gem, follows 12 months later.

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