Rendering of the new NCL ships scheduled for 2013, 2014.
As many have been predicting, the Miami Herald is reporting this morning that NCL has ordered two new cruise ships to be delivered in April 2013 and April 2014. The new ships will be similar in size to Norwegian Epic, 143,500-gross tons and 4000 passenger berths, but the line says "We did modify the look and feel of the ship to a more traditional ship."
The exterior appearance of Norwegian Epic has been criticized for being boxy and just plain ugly by many readers of this site.
President Kevin Sheehan said, "we are taking the best of what our newest ship has to offer, as well as drawing on our legacy of innovation in the cruise industry, in creating a new class of Freestyle Cruising vessel that is sure to provide our guests with the unparalleled freedom and flexibility they have come to expect on a Norwegian cruise."
The new ships will cost $1.7-billion together, and NCL has selected a new shipbuilding company to do the job after it had a highly pulicized dispute with the French STX shipyard located in St. Nazaire, France during the building of Norwegian Epic. The new ships will be built at the Meyer Werft GmbH shipyard in Germany.
The Epic order was originally for two ships, but the second ship was canceled soon after work had started on it. At that point attempts were made to halt the entire project but the shipyard was unable to find a buyer for the first ship already under construction. I t was said that the hull was too drastically different from what most cruise want these days.
It is notable that Norwegian Epic has internal engines and screw propellars rather than the pod systems installed on the latest ships from most of NCL's rival cruise lines; Royal Caribbean, Celebrity, Holland America, Cunard, Carnival, etc.
For the interior, NCL says it is staying with the current "Freestyle" design of having several dining and entertainment venues aboard the ship.
Norwegian Epic has been criticized for the limited size of its entertainment venues which require cruisers to get reservations for shows long before the cruise and then requires them to stand in line to get good seats for the open seating shows.
It will be interesting to see if they have studio cabins on the two new ships. I would like to think that they would since the ones on Epic have been so well received, but on the other hand, cruiselines tend to not like too many singles as they believe they don't spend enough on board. Plus the Studios on the Epic were originally to be a new "funky" cabin for couples, but when couple didn't seem interested they saved face by making them singles. Here's hoping that they will have studios because I really liked the one I had on the Epic a couple of weeks ago.
The new ships will be a good addition to the Freestyle Fleet. I do believe that NCL knew, even during construction, that Epic's design had some major flaws. This was indicated when they tried to sell off, the partially completed, Epic after the second ship was canceled. It was not a purely economic decision.
I also believe that NCL did a lot of things right with Epic but they needed to get rid of the bad things, keep the good things and build two new ships that get it right.
I look forward to next week when I sail Epic. I can then formulate my own first hand opinions.
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I too am excited to view this ship next week. This is my first time on a freestyle ship. One thing I am not looking forward to is the split bathroom plan. In my perusing around the web, I have not seen many complaints posted, so maybe my worries are for naught... It will be interesting to see if this design goes forward with this "unique" design...
Trip, with her book & tea!
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I still have a year to wait for my Epic transatlantic crossing BUT since I am booked in one of the forward facing suites that makes the ship look so "goofy" (and I do agree), I am still excited about it.
Just off a training cruise on the "Dawn" and the 2 new ships were definitely a topic the Captain discussed. He wasn't sure about their design but since the "Dawn" will be adding a bunch of suites during her one month dry-dock, you can bet the courtyard design with suites/villas is still HOT.