NCL Orders Two New-Builds!
While Norwegian Cruise Line's focus at today's special press conference in New York City was undoubtedly the unveiling of its massive brand awareness campaign, a few tidbits of news did filter through.
It's definite! Both Norwegian Crown and Norwegian Wind will retire in 2007. You may recall Norwegian Crown originally served with Royal Cruise Lines before moving to NCL, switching to the line's sister company Orient Lines (as Crown Odyssey), and then moving back to NCL. Crown currently handles the seven-night New York to Bermuda itinerary.
The 34,250-ton, 1,050-passenger ship is one of the few around that is small enough to call at Bermuda's Hamilton and St. George's (more modern big ships must tie up at Bermuda's King's Wharf). In the winter, Norwegian Crown sails exotic cruises that are longer than a week and focus on South and Central America.
And it's no secret that Norwegian Wind's alarm was ticking; that ship has done a yeoman job as the line's only non-American flagged vessel in Hawaii (which means that Norwegian Wind's 10-night trips must do the U.S. Jones Act-required foreign toe touch at Fanning Island, in the Republic of Kiribati).
Since NCL has already said it will put another (newer) foreign-flagged ship in Hawaii, the question is: Where does this leave Bermuda? So far, the company has not committed a ship to a regular weekly trip (warm weather season) post Norwegian Crown and marketing honcho Andy Stuart says no announcements will be forthcoming until plans there to build a second dock at King's Wharf are firm.
Just in case you missed it, announced at the height of summer vacation season was some truly major news: NCL will build its first-ever post-Panamax vessels. These twins, too big to fit through the Panama Canal, will be designed as 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger behemoths. Not yet named, the duo will be built at Aker Yards France and will launch in 2009 and 2010.
And NCL, which is right on pace with its oft-stated and ambitious plans to have the industry's most contemporary fleet by 2010, has only two ships left that it inherited when Star Cruises bought the company in 2000. So far there's been no news about the future of Norwegian Majesty or Norwegian Dream but stay tuned. We predict it's coming.
--By Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor, and Erica Sapio, Assistant Editor.