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.
Highlights to look forward to: Follow your mood from one amazing experience to the next at the heart of the ship — 678 Ocean Place. Three thrilling decks of non-stop action, this is the place to see and be seen. Rock out at The District Brew House. Then splurge at a designer boutique. Get lucky in our largest casino ever. Or please your palate at one of our specialty or main dining restaurants. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Inspired by the renowned summer beach parties on the island of Ibiza, Spice H20 is an adult-only escape. By day, you can lounge in hot tubs and a soothing waterfall grotto. By night, it’s a whole different beat. Let loose and dance beneath the stars as vibrant images display on the huge video screen. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Chill out, literally, in the all-new Snow Room, an ice-cold arctic environment that stimulates blood circulation throughout the body. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Welcome to Mandara Spa. Start with a hot-stone massage, one of over 50 specialty treatments offered by our well-trained massage therapists. Then unwind in the Thermal Suite with a steam or a dip in the Vitality Pool. Within these tranquil walls, experience the Salt Room, a dramatic grotto surrounded with layers of body-cleansing salt crystals. Or work up a sweat in our Fitness Centre. Feel like a million in a spa and fitness centre that’s truly remarkable. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Blow off a little steam in the dry sauna. Take a dip in the Vitality Pool. Enjoy a warm waterfall cascading onto your shoulders and back. Relax in a heated tiled lounger. And ease all your worries away. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Inspired by the infectious energy of the Cuban city of the same name, Bayamo by Jose Garces is fine dining imagined by one of the world’s most renowned chefs. Seafood with a Latin twist, every dish is brimming with bold, fresh ingredients. Featured prominently on The Waterfront, the Iron Chef’s first restaurant at sea offers a diverse selection of authentic flavours as vibrant as Cuba itself. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Travel somewhere new with every delicious bite at the Food Republic by the Pubbelly Boys. A fusion of foods and cultures from around the globe, every sumptuous dish has been specially curated by the Pubbelly Boys, the culinary team who have reinvented the South Beach dining scene. Travel to Peru with the boys and indulge in their version of ceviche. Jet away to Japan and try a new kind of sushi roll. Or have a hearty helping of noodles from China the way the boys envisioned it. With new iPad menus, a variety of familiar favourites and unique additions from around the globe, you can travel the world without ever leaving the ship. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Pull up a stool on The Waterfront and pair your favourite vintage with soothing waves. Step inside the main bar and sample a Merlot as you laugh with some of your closest friends. Or elevate your wine IQ with programs meant for experts and novices alike at the Tasting Table. For four generations, the Mondavi name has been intimately linked with prestige winemaking in Napa Valley. And now, they’re bringing their best blends and unparalleled knowledge to Norwegian Escape at our first-ever wine bar: The Cellars – A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar. A place where we let you enjoy your vino any way you like. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: Let your hair down in a never-before-seen party at sea. Order one of more than 50 different bottled beers or any of the 24 draft beers on tap, including local Miami craft beer from Wynwood Brewing Company – exclusively on Norwegian Escape. Sip on a specialty cocktail by Bar Lab, masterminds of internationally recognized cocktail creations. Scream your lungs out alongside live music. Or get a little wild inside the photo booth. What happens in The District, stays in The District. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
Highlights to look forward to: We’re serving more than Breakfast at The Supper Club. Spend an evening with a Brain an Athlete, a Princess, a Criminal and a Basketcase at For The Record: Dear John Hughes. This unique 360-degree post-modern cabaret brings the movies to life through their original soundtracks. Immerse yourself in the glorious 1980’s at this feast for the senses. “Twist and Shout” with Ferris, “Try A Little Tenderness” with Ducky and let Jake Ryan light your “Sixteen Candles.” No leg warmers required. (Text by Norwegian Cruise Line)
“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 Epic celebrates all-year stationment in Europe in 2016
Norwegian Jade explores the Eastern Med from Venice
Norwegian Spirit sails the best of the Med between Barcelona and Venice
Norwegian Star opens Northern Europe
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:
- North Cape
- Norway, Iceland & Faroe Islands
- 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.