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New in 2015 — Norwegian Escape

Last in a series about new ships

Ambitious to a fault, Norwegian launches a new class of ship with this — Breakaway Plus. Fortunately, the ships won’t be named for the class (a ship called Breakaway Plus?), and the Escape came from passengers who participated in a naming contest. After a three-year building sabbatical, Norwegian launched a building boom that will result in six new ships from 2013 to 2019.

Launch date: October 29

Capacity: 4,200

Sister ships: 1st in Breakaway Plus Class

Maiden voyage: A 10-day inaugural Atlantic crossing from Southampton

Home port: Miami

Ships then in Norwegian fleet: 14

Interesting: With 4,200 passengers the Escape becomes Norwegian’s largest ship, carrying 100 more passengers and 8,000 more pounds than the Epic — it’s also longer by 17 feet. It features one more deck than the Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, which make up the popular Breakaway Class, and like them includes an outdoor dining and drinking space that’s part of the promenade and called The Waterfront. New is a namesake of the famous Miami bar, Tobacco Road, along with the hull painting, this one by artist Guy Harvey.

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Royal Caribbean Enchantment of the Seas
3 nights
January 30, 2015
Port Canaveral (return): NassauCocoCay  
Inside: $169
Cost per day: $56
www.royalcaribbean.com

 

 

Escape For Smallest Of Passengers

EscapeOnce there was a time when nary a baby’s cry nor a dirty diaper would be found on a cruise ship. Children that young were neither seen nor heard because, frankly, when parents went on cruises it was to be an escape.

Ironically, the Escape not only embraces little ones, it markets them.

That’s the Norwegian Escape, the first ship in the Breakaway Plus Class that’s due to arrive in less than a year. Yesterday, some of the things that will make the ship special were unveiled. Among them — and a first for Norwegian — are childcare facilities for children from six months to three years.

That’s diaper time.

The nursery will include “an active area for play time and age-appropriate activities and a separate space for napping.” What it all adds up to is the growing philosophy in cruising of leaving no stone unturned. If there’s a way of convincing parents of babies — especially first-time parents, who often won’t leave a room without their new-born, never mind their home — to go on a cruise while on maternity leave, that’s a new market.

At one end of the Escape, so to speak, you have 60-plus Baby Boomers behaving much younger at Jimmy Buffett’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar

At the other end, you have…babies.

Today at portsandbows.com: Norwegian's new ship — fun for families

Norwegian Sky
4 nights
January 12, 2015
Miami (return): Grand Bahama Island, Nassau, Great Stirrup Cay
Inside: $199
Cost per day: $49
www.ncl.com

The Skinny On Building New Ships

When a cruise line that already has two new ships still being built announces that it is building two more, as Norwegian did on Monday, there's a tendency to think this is an unprecedented construction explosion.

It's not.

Aggressive…yes. Unheard of…no.

Starting with the Breakaway Class, by 2019 Norwegian will have launched six ships in seven years. The Escape will introduce the Breakaway Plus Class next year, followed by the Bliss in 2017 and two more as-yet unnamed ships in 2018 and 2019. Coupled Breakaway Pluswith the Breakaway (2013) and the Getaway (this year), that'll be six in seven.

Time for a little history lesson.

In one seven-year period (1998-2004), Princess launched 11 ships. In the same seven years, Carnival and Royal Caribbean both introduced 10 ships. From 1995 to 2003 (a nine-year stretch, Royal Caribbean's fleet increased by 14 ships.

The record for the "longest consecutive launching streak" belongs to Royal Caribbean: 10 straight years from 1995 to 2004. Second is Carnival with eight (1998 to 2005).

In fact, Norwegian's most productive period before the upcoming one was six ships in four years, from 2004 to 2007. That was followed by a relative drought, when only the Epic was added to Norwegian's fleet over five years.

The longest any of the so-called "big four" has gone without adding ships is four years. Before the Royal Princess was christened last year, the Ruby Princess was the line's last new ship, in 2008. Holland America, with 15 ships, has built only one ship in eight years and Celebrity, with 11, finished five in a row in 2012 and has no apparent plans to expand.

What Norwegian will accomplish by the end of this decade is it will have pretty well kept pace with its three principal rivals. From the start of the 21st century, Norwegian will have built 17 ships…Royal Caribbean 18, Carnival 16 and Princess 12. 

Unless, of course, more announcements are to come.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Expedition cruising the Seabourn way

Celebrity Millennium
7 nights
September 5, 2014
AnchorageHubbard GlacierJuneauSkagwayIcy Strait PointKetchikanVancouver
Inside: $499
Cost per day: $71
www.celebritycruises.com

In Case You're Looking For An Escape…

The pictures below are called a sneak preview. They're also called a way for cruise lines — namely, Norwegian — to get a little attention about new ships that nobody has yet seen.

Except for an artistic rendering of the ship's exterior, Norwegian's Escape is being developed in secret. The following pictures — also renderings, actually — give you a look at what staterooms on the line's first Breakaway Plus ship will look like when it arrives in October 2015.

Studio: There are 82 of these, up from 59 on the Breakaway, not as many as the Epic's 128.

Studio

Inside: 407 of them, with lower beds that convert to a queen (connecting staterooms are available for families).

Inside

Oceanview: The interesting thing here is of the 114 Oceanviews, 48 can accommodate up to five people.

Oceanview

Balconies: All 1,168 include lower beds that convert to a Queen and can accommodate two more passengers.

Balcony

Mini-Suites: The lowers convert to a King, to go with the other king, and a bathtub is among other indulgences.

Mini-Suite

Spa Mini-Suites: Include exclusive access to the spa and fitness center…and a pretty decor, and there are 20.

Spa Suite

The Haven: The variety of 95 suites for the rich and famous, or at least the rich, represent luxury at sea the Norwegian way.

Haven

If you already "cruise like a Norwegian" you'll be anxious to see the Escape in the flesh, so to speak.

Island Princess
7 nights
May 21, 2014 
VancouverKetchikanJuneauSkagwayGlacier Bay, College Fjord, Anchorage
Inside: $648
Cost per day: $92
www.princess.com

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