NCL Introduces the F3 Nightlife

| June 18, 2008

F3, the third generation of "Free-style" cruising by Norwegian Cruise Lines slated for the new generation of ships coming for NCL, will offer an array of innovative shipboard entertainment options.

NCL's famous introduction of "Freestyle Cruising" was a radical change when started in 2000, now through phases F1 and F2 and at the design stages of F3, "Free-style" is blazing new trails. The latest innovations in the planned multitude of onboard dining and nightlife options for the next generation, the F3 ships, are bold and unique statements in the world of cruising.

NCL officially announced F3, what they call the "New Wave Standard" for cruising, with the laying of the keel on April 24, 2008 for the first of two F3 ships, the first to be launched in 2010. These ships come in at 150,000-tons and 4500 passenger berths each.

In a previous article we told you all about the NCL F3 cabin innovations. The new cabins are sleek and cutting edge in design with rounded corners, vaulted dome-like ceilings and cool LED lighting. In Las Vegas on June 16th we were treated to a glimpse of the next phase in F3, the proposed entertainment options planned for upcoming F3 ships.

The New F3 Entertainment Innovations

As far as cruise ships go, nightlife has been completely redefined on the F3 ships. In the words of president Colin Veitch, "there will be no expansive, high-ceilinged rooms only used for a few hours each day on these ships." The entertainment venues on F3 will be multi-purpose rooms that transform throughout the day and into the late night hours.

This implies that there will be no main show lounge on these new ships - probably the first cruise ship ever built without some kind of main production showroom. Rather, there will be a variety of entertainment venues, all of them offering passengers something entirely different from other ships, and from each other.

In all, NCL gave out details for five new entertainment venues on the F3 ships, each one completely unique. Nowhere is there one with typical theater-style seating. rather, the rooms themselves are capable of presenting professional entertainment of all types, but in more casual and innovative settings.

Some of the rooms will be indoors, while others are outdoors, and all are open and active day and night. Some of the rooms will feature acts suitable for the whole family, while some rooms will be limited to adults only. Meanwhile, the hours for the children's programs have been extended until 10:30 p.m. at no charge and baby-sitting services will be available until 1:30 p.m. for an extra charge.

Holding the announcement for this new style of cruise ship entertainment in Las Vegas was meant to send a definite message - that NCL is the cruise line that is once again breaking the mold. While they still want to cater to families, they now also seek to please young adults who want more mature and lively entertainment options similar to cities like Las Vegas. Several of the nightclubs will have live gaming and feature ultra-lavish decor.

NCL President Colin Veitch gave us a summary of the five new proposed entertainment venues on the new F3 ships.

Ultra-Lounge (Bliss) The first is what the F3 ships call the Ultra-lounge, which is similar to "Bliss" as found on Norwegian Pearl and Jade, except it will be bigger and more lavish. Colin describes the Ultra-Lounge as the "Las Vegas" style lounge on the ship. This means women should be dressed to the nines in short skirts and high heels, at night anyway, and gentlemen should have on their coolest shirts and freshly styled coiffure.

The club with still have the bowling alleys and the plush pillows, various tiered levels and dozens of cushy pillows and hidden-away Balinese bards, but for the first time, the room will also have live gaming at night. At night this will be an adults-only club, though the youngsters will be able to come in during the day for bowling.

The F3 Ultra-Club: click for full-size pics.

Ultra-Club Daytime Fun   Ultra-Club at Night

POSH Beach Club The next venue is called POSH, and the reason our press conference was called in Las Vegas is because the F3 club resembles some of the finest pools in Las Vegas. The adults-only club is outdoors and located near specially built suites that will have private access to the club day and night. Other guests will be able to purchase a day-pass to the area anytime they want. Access will be by a private glass elevator.

The decor is reminiscent of a private Riviera beach. There are white-cushioned day beds in private cabanas. Cooling off can be done in the 35-foot long cascading waterfall. By nighttime the club has a DJ spinning music and VIP bottle service becomes available.

The area is designed to take on four distinct personalities as the day goes one, referred to by NCL as the "POSH Experiences" as follows:

  • Early Morning (6 to 9 am) - POSH Vive
    • Guests awake to yoga classes and body-and-soul treatments in private cabanas as the sun rises and the day starts anew.
  • Morning (9 to Noon am) - POSH Rehab
    • Guests can relax and recover from a night out with Salty Dogs, Bloody Mary's, and mimosas combined with chill out tunes.
  • Afternoon (Noon to 6 pm) - POSH Sol
    • The best nightlife in the daytime with guests lounging on day beds, enjoying funky beach music and spiked POSH snow cones while chilling under a lit waterfall.
  • Evening (8 pm to whenever) - Pure POSH
    • A pure, sizzling, sexy, nightlife experience where guests enjoy sparkling drinks and bottle service served on silver trays. Look out Vegas, the vibe here is hot... guests can dance all night under the stars or lounge on a POSH bed... truly Riviera style.

The POSH Beach Club: click for full-size pics.

POSH Daytime Fun   POSH at Night

Halo, the Über Bar This is meant to be the most exclusive nightclub on the entire ship. VIP access is limited to Garden and Courtyard villa guests exclusively. Über Bar located at the top of the ship on the private deck 16, and only offers the best of the best; from the best liquors from around the world to the best art featured and available for purchase. Service is by jewelry-clad servers waitresses, their adornments available for onboard purchase.

Strategically-placed LED screens, built into frames to resemble masterpiece paintings, show custom produced video montages of the best artwork, music videos, films, iconic images of celebrities, places, fashion and more. Private gaming tables, including baccarat and blackjack, add to the sexy style in this adult-only club.

Halo, the Über Bar and the ICE BAR click for full-size pics.

Halo, the Über Bar   ICE BAR

The ICE BAR The new F3 ships will have the first true Ice Bars at sea (there are only 14 in the entire world). While it is true one of the new Celebrity ships has an ice-counter, this is a true ICE BAR, meaning a complete room set up inside of (basically) a huge freezer. Entrance to the Ice Bar is a single cover charge and includes alcohol. Everyone is given a fur coat. The main drink is, of course, vodka served in glasses made out of ice.

Throughout, the walls, floor and ceiling are composed of ice blocks set off by colored LED lights meant to simulate the Northern Lights. The centerpiece is a giant ice cube that glows and changes colors in rhythm to the techno dance beats, although actual dancing is not recommended unless you have an Olympics trainer. The Ice Bar also feaures tables, stools, glasses and life-size sculptures all made from ice.

Located on deck seven, Ice Bar will accommodate 25 guests who will be given fur coats, gloves and hats to keep them warm, since the room's temperature will not rise above 17 degrees Fahrenheit - creating the ultimate chill.

Spice H20 Located at the back of the ship on decks 15 and 16, this entertainment venue takes aft-end pools to a new dimension. This adults-only complex is infused with Latin and Asian influences, colors and vibes. Nighttime, the main feature is a huge LED screen displaying vibrant video images from charging bulls to flamenco dancers, synchronized swimmers and tap dancing Geishas all combined with dynamic music to create a truly unique and sensory experience.

During the day, guests can soak up the sun in lounge beds around the pool while enjoying chill-out Asian tunes and Asian-inspired cuisine in Chinese to-go containers. As the sun sets, Spice H20 is transformed to an Ibiza-inspired beach club with live entertainment and dinner served tableside or directly on beds.

Spice H20 click for full-size pics.

Spice H20 daytime   Spice H20 daytime

Spice H20 will serve up four spicy vibes per day:

  • Morning (8 to 11 am) - Sunny Spice
    • Spicy Bloody Mary's and Spicitinis combine with breakfast and relaxing tunes.
  • Afternoon (11 am to 4 pm) - Aqua Spice
    • Guests enjoy the energy of the in-crowd as they sun the day away with Asian margaritas, bottle service and beers from around the world. Asian-inspired food is served in Chinese to-go containers.
  • Late afternoon/early evening (4 to 9 pm) - Sunset Spice
    • A perfect sunset every day - either live or via the big screen. Live entertainment, flowing champagne and an eclectic menu that isn't available anywhere else on the ship. As the sun sets, it becomes a more intimate environment with Spanish guitars and red-hot dancers setting the vibe.
  • Evening (9 pm to whenever) - All Spice
    • The entertainment is non-stop throughout the evening in this outdoor amphitheater. A visually captivating aerial ballet video comes to life as the pool floor rises and aerial performers mix dance moves with acrobatic choreography inside a metallic sphere to create a mesmerizing experience. Then guests can dance the night away on the covered pool.

Summing Up These new entertainment venues are meant to give passengers an entirely new experience at sea. Rather than the traditional mix of dining in the same dining room and seeing the kind of variety show in the main production show theater every night, F3 ships are more like hotels where people are free to make personal choice options about what they feel is most appealing to them on any given night.

NCL claims to be dismantling the structure, regimentation, and constraints of the traditional cruise experience. This completely new approach to nighttime entertainment is definitely a step in the right direction to achieving that end.

One thing to think about is that NCL is now 1/2 owned by Apollo, the company that owns Caesar's Palace, Paris, the Flamingo, Rio and several other Las Vegas hot spots. 15 years ago, Las Vegas was trying very hard to appeal to the family market, however they have now given up on that approach in favor of the "young adult" market. Now the catch-phrase is "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas"

Is NCL headed down a similar path? If you ask senior VP Andy Stuart, he says they still want to appeal to families, too. But "too" is the key word. These new ships have something a lot of traditional ships do not have, the sleek, toney and "hot" atmosphere of Las Vegas. Yes, they still want families, but it seems to me they also want the young adults who don't have many pre-conceived notions about what a cruise ship should be. These people are willing to try something new for their entertainment dollar, and NCL is poised to give it to them.

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