More Trouble for F3?

September 19, 2008

The fate of F3, Norwegian Cruise Line's innovative new-build due out in early 2010, seems to be hanging in the balance. Just two days after reports surfaced suggesting significant contractual disputes between NCL and Aker France, the yard responsible for F3's construction, talks seem to have broken down further. Seatrade Insider, an industry publication, is reporting that Aker is actually shopping the project.

So who's been approached? According to the Seatrade report, it's the industry big guns. Both Carnival and Royal Caribbean, as well as Italy-based MSC Cruises, have been contacted.

The NCL-Aker fallout is said to stem from disagreements over the cost of altering certain specs on the vessel, which has been under construction for months (keel was laid back in April).

The chance of another line picking up the project seems highly unlikely, given the unusual nature of the F3 design -- structurally unique curved wave cabins, no main dining room, no main theater -- which represents a dramatic shift away from more traditionally designed ships. Seatrade's source notes that if another line agreed to take on the project, a lot of changes would need to be made.

At this point, the future of the ship is uncertain, and NCL remains tight-lipped. The line's official statement is that they will not comment on commercial or legal disputes.

We'll keep you posted.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor