NCL's new ships will introduce "The Haven," a complex of extravagant suites with private restaurants and concierge.
Until tonight, a partnership between Conde Nast Traveler Magazine and NCL would, at best, seem unlikely. But against the backdrop of Conde Nast's Times Square, Frank Gehry-designed, 4th floor dining venue, the leading publication of high-end luxury travel and the front-runner of mass market family cruising joined together to reveal the luxurious details of the upper rung of NCL's Project Breakaway ships to about 100 travel professionals and journalists.
Following a welcome by Conde Nast Traveler VP/Publisher Chris Mitchell and a brief discussion of Conde Nast Traveller's first cruise-themed issue (August, 2011, on newsstands 7/21/11), NCL CEO Kevin Sheehan took the podium to introduce The Haven by Norwegian.
"Norwegian was the first cruise line to introduce the ship within a ship complex with the introduction of Norwegian Jewel in 2005," said Sheehan. "These private enclaves at the top of the ships are home to our most luxurious, well-appointed and spacious accommodations offering the utmost in service and elegance. With the introduction of the suite complex on our Breakaway ships, we felt it was appropriate to brand this space as The Haven by Norwegian to better identify and describe the unique luxury cruising experience we offer." (The concept will be extended to Norwegian's Jewel class ships, including Jewel, Jade, Pearl and Gem, and the Norwegian Epic expanding their existing butler service to 24 hours and offering butlers trained and certified by the International Institue of Modern Butlers and adding a poolside valet in the Courtyard.)
On the Project Breakaway ships, The Haven, consisting of 42 suites located on Decks 15 and 16 forward, includes a private restaurant, a cocktail bar and a concierge desk. In the center of The Haven, there is a two-story courtyard area with pool, two whirlpools and a privats sundeck along with two private massage rooms, changing areas and a sauna. The Haven guests also have direct, private access to the ship's spa and fitness center.
The most luxurious and the largest suites within The Haven are the two Deluxe Owner's Suites which include an elegantly-appointed living room and dining area that includes a wet bar. In the bedroom there is a plush king size bed with pillow top mattress that faces floor to ceiling windows and an extra spacious wraparound private balcony. Bathrooms include an oversized tub, two vanity sinks and shower. The Deluxe Owner's Suites may be joined to the Owner's Suites to create one grand suite that can sleep up to eight guests.
Other accommodations within The Haven include: -21 Two-bedroom family villas featuring two bedrooms and two bathrooms. -17 Courtyard Penthouses which feature a king-size bed, living and dining area and a single sofa bed.
Outside The Haven, Project Breakaway offers the following luxury accommodations: -8 Aft-facing penthouses and 10 forward-facing penthouses. -16 Spa Suites, similar to those introduced aboard Norwegian Epic. These suites feature tranquil spa decor, king-size bed, dining area and an in-suite whirlpool. Bathrooms feature an oversize spa-like shower and a waterfall shower head with multiple body spray jets and a separate handheld shower and two vanity sinks.
Each of the Project Breakaway ships will be 144,017 gross tons and will have approximately 4,000 passenger berths including a continuation of the single-guest Studio concept introduced on Norwegian Epic. The ships are scheduled for delivery in April 2013 and April 2014. Steel cutting will be complete in September and keel laying is expected in April. Like other Norwegian ships, artwork will appear on the hull and Sheehan alluded to something "never before done" being a feature of the ships' higher decks. Entertainment--different from that offered aboard other NCL ships--is currently being determined with the line currently considering some of today's "hottest" shows.
During the presentation this evening, the overwhelming theme was Norwegian's desire to attract those--particularly families--seeking the best of both worlds: The myriad of entertainment and dining options offered by a mass market line like Norwegian while, at the same time, enjoying the solitude and privacy afforded by luxury vessels. Curiously, cruisemates.com believed Norwegian--or, at the time, NCL--had that potential way back in February 2010 when it published my account of a cruise aboard Norwegian Gem.