Norwegian: Second Breakaway Plus Ordered

| July 18, 2013

Breakaway-Plus artist rendering

Norwegian Cruise Line orders the second of its largest ships ever planned - Breakaway-Plus

Norwegian Cruise Line is on a roll the last couple of years. Indeed, if anyone has been propelled forward by the miasma currently surrounding Carnival Cruise Line, it is Norwegian. Lately we have noticed our forum message boards are often more populated by the Norwegian crowd than the Carnival crowd - something that rarely happened in the past.

The point is that while Carnival seems to slogging through a tough period that just keeps getting worse, Norwegian is riding on a wave of successful ship launches, and announcements for new ships, that is giving the cruise line a brand new image.

The latest news from Norwegian is the announcement that the line has ordered a second ship of the still barely unveiled "Breakaway-Plus class". This all new class of ship will be the biggest Norwegian has ever built, by far. In fact, they will be among the largest cruise ships in world, only vying with the (also yet to be launched) "Quantum of the Seas" forthcoming to Royal Caribbean in 2014.

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Specifically: While the world's largest cruise ships will remain Oasis of the Seas, along with Allure and a yet-to-be-named third vessel of the same class, all approximately 220,000-tons, the second largest ships will also come from Royal Caribbean, the forthcoming Quantum and Anthem of the Seas, both predicted to be 167,800 tons, followed by the Breakaway-Plus ships for Norwegian at 163,000-tons.

Breakaway Plus Detail

The two Breakaway-Plus ships are scheduled to come into service in October, 2015, and the second in the spring of 2017. When the company announced the first one it intimated a second one was likely forthcoming, but it did not confirm it until now.

"The incredible response we've received from guests, travel agents and media regarding Norwegian Breakaway only reinforced our decision to add a second Breakaway Plus vessel to our fleet," said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line's chief executive officer. "With groundbreaking elements, yet to be announced, and an additional deck to incorporate further innovations, our two Breakaway Plus ships will provide guests even more ways to experience all that the new Norwegian has to offer."

These ships will contain 4200 passenger berths, a term which means "beds on the floor." Typically, Norwegian ships also have plenty of availability to add third and fourth guests in each stateroom, so you can expect the total capacity of the ship to be much higher, easily over 5000 passengers in total. This is at a point where it is starting to vie with the world's largest Oasis-class for passenger capacity.

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All we know about the design, beyond looking at the artist's rendering of the exterior (which tells us very little) is that these ships are conceived as super-sized versions of the current Norwegian Breakaway and Getaway. By looking at the rendering we see at least one additional passenger deck, her overall dimensions are to be more "Epic" in proportions as well - 12% larger, to be specific.

The combined contract cost of the two Breakaway Plus ships is about E1.4 billion (1.8 billion U.S. Dollars). The company has export credit financing in place that provides the funding for 80-percent of the contract price. The ships will be built at the Meyer Werft Shipyard, which seems to be the shipyard getting most of the cruise line business these days. The yard will also be building the just slightly larger Quantum of the Sea (for Royal Caribbean, to be delivered in 2014) first.

This shipyard is not really known for building ships of this size for a number of reasons. 1) It is an indoor facility, containing the second largest open-space building in Europe, the first belonging to the Airbus factory, and (2) The shipyard is also on The River Ems some 40 miles from the ocean, which was originally quite utile for ship sizes in the day, but that today presents a navigational challenge for the newest extra-large cruise ships. The shipbuilders must wait for high tide, and then must move the ships with towboats to keep them in a narrow lane. The whole Ems River process has become so complicated there is now an official name for it, the "conveyance."

Prior to Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, Meyer Werft had also built Norwegian's four Jewel-class ships - Norwegian Gem (2007), Norwegian Pearl and Norwegian Jade (2006), and Norwegian Jewel (2005). Including these two new Breakaway Plus vessels on order the cruise line will have used Meyer Werft to build 11 ships.

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