NCL’s next-generation Freestyle-cruising ships, due in 2013 and 2014.
Photo-illustration courtesy of NCL.

Norwegian Cruise Line finally announced this week what had been rumored for months: they are indeed planning to build two new ships, due out in 2013 and 2014.
The as-yet unnamed ships will be constructed at Germany’s Meyer-Werft shipyard and will weigh in at 143,500 GRT.  They will be capable of holding approximately 4,000 passengers and have a price tag of $1.2 billion for the pair.
Perhaps most revealing, these two new vessels will represent a new class of ship for NCL, and will more closely resemble an evolution of the highly popular Jewel Class and not the more recent Norwegian Epic.  These ships will be slightly smaller than Epic, and will hold less passengers.
The rendering of the proposed ships released by NCL shows a more streamlined profile.  Gone are the “crown” of suites above the bridge, and the two smallish funnels found on Epic have been replaced with a single, more traditional uptake.  
Also revealing is the fact that NCL went back to longtime partner Meyer Werft to construct this new class of ship.  The line’s relationship with STX Europe, who built the Epic, was plagued with contractual disputes and scheduling issues that were topped off with a string of suspicious shipboard fires that still remain unsolved.
While no details of the ships amenities or interior features have been announced, it seems likely at least some of Epic‘s highly-rated entertainment and dining venues will find their way onto the new vessel.  Less likely to be aboard are the wavy staterooms found on Epic.  While the jury is still out on the unique curved stateroom walls – some passengers like them, while others feel the result is a more cramped stateroom – almost everyone is in agreement that the bathroom concept, with its open-air and almost see-through door layout, doesn’t work.  Expect the concept to be heavily re-tooled or scrapped altogether.
NCL released more potential good news today with the revelation it has filed with the SEC for an IPO (initial public offering) of its shares – which would make NCL a publicly-traded company for the first time in the line’s history.
For more information, be sure to visit the Norwegian Cruise Line website.

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