Norwegian Cruise Line | A lover´s vow to Europe

When Norwegian Epic sets sail from Miami to Barcelona on April 19th, 2015, she is not only going to ring in her traditional summer season in the Mediterranean, this time she is going to stay. At least first off all year-long until April 2017.

And this is why these news are so extraordinary:

Norwegian will be the only American cruise line to station a ship all year-long in Europe. This is not only a sign of trust and commitment to the European cruise market, it is also a financial risk for the company, as it will be quite a “challenge to fill those 4,100 beds on a year-round base”, stated by Jürgen Stille, Norwegian´s Director Business Development Continental Europe, on the cruise line´s press conference at the Berlin International Travel Fair (ITB) last week.

To fine-tune Epic for her maiden winter season, “Europe´s Leading Cruise Line 2008 – 2014” announced some changes to the onboard offerings and at the same time presented new itineraries to the Canary Island, Madeira, Morocco and in the Western Mediterranean.

Just after this upcoming summer season, Epic will dry dock in France from September to October 2015 (check out these two cool one-way cruises to/from Southampton). Besides enhancement works on the interiors, the ship will start with new onboard offerings into its inaugural winter season:

Like the Broadway musical “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” or the highly popular “Burn the Floor” dance show. The vessel´s “Fat Cats Jazz & Blues Club” will make room to the newly invented “The Cavern Club“. Designed after the homonymous legendary club in Liverpool, this venue will offer Rock´n Roll atmosphere, live music and, of course, a Beatles Cover Band to dance the nights away with.

But Epic is not the only highlight planned for Europe, as Francis Riley, Senior Vice President International, explained.

The company´s newest vessel, Norwegian Escape, will debut in October 2015 with her premiere in Hamburg, Germany (I am very excited to be on board for this fabulous event). This is an absolute first for Norwegian Cruise Line and substantiates the company´s dedication to the German cruise market and the fantastic cooperation with the Meyer Werft shipyard, that Norwegian has worked together with for centuries. Meyer Werft is building three more “Freestyle Cruising Resorts” until 2019, increasing the general capacity of the Norwegian fleet by almost 50 percent.

“If there were more ships to come after 2019 for the Norwegian brand”, a journalist questioned Riley at the press conference. “Norwegian Bliss and two more Breakaway-Plus vessels will be delivered until 2019. This means, including Escape, four new ships within the next five years. We are very content about the partnership with Meyer Werft”, Riley smiled mysteriously.

And in fact, since the takeover of Prestige Cruise Holdings, Inc in 2014, the signs at Norwegian Cruise Line stand even more on growth.

Ultra-luxury brand Regent Seven Seas Cruises is implementing in 2016 the Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, as the cruise line calls the newbuilt. Prestige´s second luxury brand, Oceania Cruises, has announced the acquisition of the ex-Princess Cruises´ Ocean Princess and her transformation into Oceania Sirena, also debuting in summer 2016. Even Norwegians parent company Genting Hong Kong has announced two new ships for its subsidiary Star Cruises in Asia, to be delivered in 2016 and 2017.

But coming back to Europe, Epic and Escape remain not the only ships to reinforce Norwegian´s mission to upgrade  European cruise offerings for 2015/2016, as the itinerary previews for next year demonstrate.

Norwegian Jade will offer two 7-night Eastern Mediterranean itineraries out of Venice with stops inter alia in Santorini, Mykonos, Split, Dubrovnik and Kusadasi, just to mention a few highlights. Those routes can be combined to a 14-nights adventure without visiting one port twice!

Freshly refurbished Norwegian Spirit will sail from May until November 2016 between Barcelona and Venice (vice versa), offering 12-nights voyages with stops in France, Italy, Greece and Turkey. With so many highlights during one cruise, there is really no reason to hesitate!

Last but not least, Norwegian Star (scheduled for refurbishment in 2015) , which will again be returning to its summer base Copenhagen next year, is going to sail on my personal favourites for 2016:

  1. North Cape
  2. Norway, Iceland & Faroe Islands
  3. Norwegian Fjords

While other major cruise lines, such as Royal Caribbean for instance, openly focus on the cruise market´s rising star Asia in the upcoming years, Norwegian shows its appreciation for the loyalty of its fans to the brand by answering their demands with a Yes.

A “Yes!” to Europe, a “Yes!” to Freestyle Cruising and a “Yes!” to choice and quality.

Because, if you choose to #cruiselikeanorwegian, it is only real on a Norwegian cruise vessel.

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