Post Controversy, NCL to Launch Two New Ships in '13, '14

The Rendering for NCL's New Ship

Norwegian Cruise Line has announced two brand new ships that will sail into service in April 2013 and April 2014 modeled after the Norwegian Epic which took its inaugural voyage four months ago.

The two new Norwegian Cruise Line ships will be similar in size and concept to Norwegian Epic, even though Epic was largely conceived by then company president, Colin Veitch, who was replaced by NCL management in 2009, about a year before the ship was finished.

The new NCL management was hoping to renegotiate the Epic project but inevitably constructions was too far along so shipyard halted any forward movement and rumors flew that they began looking for another buyer for the project.

It is also rumored that one of the reasons that both NCL and the new equity partner, Apollo Management wanted to scale back and perhaps even terminate the Epic project was two-fold involving the onslaught of the recession as well as several poor design choices beginning with the stateroom which featured bathroom elements (shower, sink and wash basin) in separate areas of the room and with limited regard for privacy. In addition, there were also reports made that the entertainment venues were rather small, undermining the high-end level of entertainment that is synonymous with NCL, with the main stage offering seating to only 16 percent of the ship's passenger capacity while most ship theaters can accommodate 35 to 50-percent of the passenger load.

The new ships will be slightly smaller than Norwegian Epic, coming in at 143,500-tons (vs. 155,000 for Norwegian Epic) and 4000 passenger berths (4100 for Epic). The main alterations to the exteriors seem largely cosmetic with a focus on revamping the Garden complex and other forward decks into a smoother, more integrated superstructure but unfortunately, the new rendering does not reveal the open-air nightclub Spice H20.

No further confirmation of the ships' internal aesthetic have been offered but they will feature the same "Freestyle Cruising" concept as Epic, which means a large variety of restaurants (many with a cover charge) and a selection of different nightly venues for a variety of entertainment throughout the cruise.

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