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NCL’s Norwegian Epic is introducing a brand-new stateroom category.
Seatrade has always been a focal point for announcements connected with new ships, and there was much to discuss this year: MSC Cruises is launching its Splendida; Costa Cruises is inaugurating two very different newbuilds in June, followed by Seabourn’s Odyssey; and two new vessels from Pearl Seas Cruises arrive in the summer. Fall brings the debuts of Celebrity Equinox, Carnival Dream, Silver Spirit and Oasis of the Seas. River cruise lines are also expanding rapidly with new ships from lines that include Viking River Cruises, Avalon Waterways, Uniworld, Amawaterways, Tauck and Victoria Cruises.
Much of the focus at Seatrade this year, however, was on ships due out in 2010 — Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) Norwegian Epic, due in May 2010, and Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth, set for an October 2010 debut.
Norwegian EpicNCL executives Kevin Sheehan, CEO, Roberto Martinoli, president and COO, and Andy Stuart, executive vice president of global sales and passenger services, announced plans for Epic’s accommodations, including a revolutionary new stateroom category.
With the new category, NCL has taken the concept of a ship-within-a-ship much further. With the Epic, the courtyard villas’ exclusive areas and the industry’s arrangements for teen space have been extended to the budget-conscious client and the spa-lover.
While the economy passenger has been largely lost in the shuffle of exclusive areas mot recently, on Epic, there will be 128 very cleverly designed, 100-square foot "studios" with their own two-story, shared social space, including a bar, television screens, a concierge for booking shore excursions and onboard restaurants. With circular windows looking into the ship and exclusive keycard access, these studios are priced like inside cabins, which are 128 square feet without the separate social area. Guests can relax, read and order room service together or on their own. Industry insiders predict that these will be especially appealing to singles, solo travelers and younger cruisers.
Epic will also have 39 spa staterooms in the main spa area with special dccor and 24-hour access to the spa’s thermal suite. Eight of the spa staterooms will have their own whirlpools. And onboard Epic, NCL’s Courtyard concept will grow to 60 suites surrounding a two-deck private courtyard with its own indoor/outdoor dining, a spa, gym, pool, bar and concierge lounge. Forty-six, 506-square-foot courtyard villas will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms each, and six, 322-square-foot courtyard penthouses will be designed with a living and dining section separate from the bedroom, as will the eight owner’s suites of 852 square-feet each, with floor-to-ceiling windows.
Epic will also cater to families with 225 family deluxe balcony and 146 family balcony staterooms near the children’s areas on Decks 13 and 14; most will connect for larger groups.
Cunard’s Queen ElizabethAt Seatrade, Cunard Line also unveiled information about the design and deployment of its Queen Elizabeth, the second-largest Cunard ship built in the line’s 169-year history and an extension of its Queen Victoria concept.
Peter Shanks, chief commercial officer of Carnival UK, noted features of the new ship that tie the Art Deco Queen Elizabeth to Cunard’s heritage and to English country houses. These include a new version of the Brittania Club, built as a whole separate restaurant tied to a new category of the best balcony staterooms located in the center of the ship with single seating open dining. Aficionados of the mysteries of England’s Golden Age writers will revel in garden parties, mystery games, prom concerts and other pleasures of English country houses and the books of Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers and others.
The Garden Lounge, an echo of the original Queen Elizabeth with its vaulted glass roof reminiscent of Kew gardens in London, will house afternoon tea and the garden parties. A games deck will offer bowls, croquet and paddle tennis. Six main suites will bear the names, portraits and biographies of Cunard Line commodores who have been knighted, and the library, with a leaded-glass ceiling, will house an antique globe from 1938, the era of the original Queen Elizabeth, not to mention 6,000 books.
Eighty-five percent of the 1,046 staterooms will be outside; 71 percent of them are balcony staterooms.
Seabourn OdysseyMeanwhile, the debut of the new 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey by Yacths of Seabourn this June will double the line’s capacity and allow expansion of its global deployment, enriched even further by Seabourn Sojourn next year and a third ship in 2011.
Yachts of Seabourn will call at a record number of ports throughout 2010-2011, including 44 destinations that are either totally new for the cruise line or places where they have not called for years, including Jeju Island, Yeosu and Mokpo, South Korea; Djupivogur, Iceland; Doha, Qatar; Kuching, Malaysia; Fremantle, Australia; Mayotte, Comoros; Sir Bani Yas, United Arab Emirates; Manama, Bahrain; Mangalore, India; Muara Port, Brunei; Port Stanley, Falkland Islands; Sibenik, Croatia; Sihanoukville, Cambodia; and Szczencin, Poland.
Peter Cox, director of itinerary planning and development for Yachts of Seabourn, said the Odyssey will take her greater size and speed around the world in winter and cruising the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea in summer. When the Sojourn enters the market in 2010 she will take over the world cruise, spending summer in Northern Europe and the Baltic, and Odyssey will winter with a circumnavigation of South America.
Seabourn Pride will operate year-round in the Far East, exploring China, Japan, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam in depth. The Pride’s China Journey operates between the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan for the first time.
Seabourn Legend will cruise the Riviera in summer and homeport in Dubai during the winter, and Seabourn Spirit will spend spring, summer and fall in the central Mediterranean and Adriatic; during the winter she will offer cruises in Indonesia, Singapore and Borneo, coupling Australia and the Great Barrier Reef with soft adventure in the lesser known islands.
New TerminalsTurning from the ships to the terminals that serve them, Port Everglades port director Phil Allen unveiled the design for Terminal 18, the world’s largest single-ship cruise terminal that will serve Oasis of the Seas, with the goal of bringing passengers onboard in 15 minutes.
The 67,500 square foot space will grow to 240,000 square feet when its $75 million construction project is finished this November. The port exhibited "the ant farm," a sped-up demonstration of how 6,000 passengers would simultaneously embark with 6,000 disembarking in the split design, which is lit naturally from a 4,000 square foot skylight. Passengers arriving early will find comfortable seating, recharging for their electronics, free Wi-fi and a playground for children.
The two-level area for disembarkation is 102,000 square feet, with 22 stations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection personnel and the arrivals hall for embarkation is designed in the new section with 90 check-in stations in a 138,000 square foot area, also on two levels. Video screens guide passengers and separate entrances and traffic routes for arriving and departing buses, trucks, taxis and cars. A holding area will accommodate up to 15 buses and more than a thousand parking spaces will be available within walking distance.
Cunard Linewww.cunard.comNorwegian Cruise Linewww.ncl.comYachts of Seabournwww.seabourn.com