Norwegian Cruise Line Gives Sneak Peek Into Project Leonardo

Originally published in Travel Market Report. 

At Seatrade on Wednesday, Norwegian Cruise Line showcased a few details about its four next-generation ships, part of an agreement it signed with Fincantieri S.p.A. shipbuilders last month.

The ships, which will be delivered every June starting in 2022, are designed to “bring guests closer to the sea,” president and CEO Frank Del Rio said.

They will sport huge lower decks, which Del Rio called “Beach Decks,” with infinity pools and restaurants. “We’re famous for breaking molds and going against the grain,” he said.

The ships will all come in at 140,000 gross tons and will carry 3,300 guests—a number small enough to still allow the ship to enter smaller ports. “It provides flexibility to deploy these vessels around the world,” Del Rio said. More details about the new builds will be released in coming months, including some “breakthrough technologies” that will enhance the guest experience.

Norwegian Bliss
The third ship in Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus class, Norwegian Bliss, will debut in June 2018, sailing from Seattle to Alaska.

Bliss, which enters the Breakaway Plus class after Escape and Joy, will be sailing out of Seattle’s new Pier 66, a “brand new guest experience,” senior PR director Vanessa Picariello told reporters.

Bliss’s observation lounge will span the entire forward part of the ship and will provide 22,000 square feet of lounge space, each foot with access to a 180-degree view of where the ship is headed. In the middle of the lounge, Norwegian has installed a bar with a polished aluminum front and a granite top.

The ship’s “ship within a ship” complex, The Haven, has been “designed to give folks the luxury cruise experience with the bells and whistles of a big ship and the ability to sail with their families,” Picariello said.

The Haven on Bliss will have the same number of suites as on Escape, but the public area will be doubled, with a new two-story observation lounge as its centerpiece feature. The observation lounge will open at the front part of the ship, giving guests “the connection with the destination you’re sailing to,” Picariello said.

Cuba update
The Cuban-born Del Rio, who emigrated in 1961 right before his seventh birthday, told reporters that “so far Havana and Cuba in general have been very well received by our guests.”

The first five sailings “sold like nothing else we’ve ever seen before,” at meaningfully higher prices.

Norwegian’s Cuba itineraries, which started this month, leave Miami Monday afternoons and land in Havana on Tuesday morning. The ship then stays over Tuesday night and until 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, when it departs to Great Stirrup Cay, and then returns to Miami on Friday morning.

There are 15 different shore excursions in Cuba, including “The Life of Hemingway in Havana,” “The Legendary Tropicana Cabaret” and “The Art Of Cuba – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” All shore excursions are OFAC-compliant.

“We’re very pleased with the performance on the shore excursions; guests were very happy,” Del Rio said.


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