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Friday File: Norwegian’s Hulls Of A Show

They weren’t always so, well, outlandish. But the more unusual they became, the more the hull art on Norwegian’s ships started to look like a competition where the next one had to be more jaw-dropping or eye-catching than the last. That brings us to the Norwegian Escape, the 14th and newest ship in the fleet, come October 25. Below is the hull art applied this month to the ship’s bow — on both sides — from artist Guy Harvey, followed by the more for your perusal and assessment (the eight ships here are arranged chronologically, from newest to oldest)…

S693_Escape_Guy Harvey_Artwork-Shooting_2015_07_28

Thumbs-up from the artist, accompanied by Norwegian President Andy Stuart at the shipyard where the Escape is being finished.


The Getaway is Miami’s ship, a connection that well-known Cuban-American artist David La Batard painted in his impressionistic style.


In 2013, famous New York artist Peter Max was commissioned to dress up the Breakaway, unmistakably New York’s ship.


When the Epic arrived in 2010, its hull art was decidedly non-descript, which its critics (we are not among them) say is appropriate.


While it might take some imagination to figure out the ship’s name by its art, the Gem in 2007 was the flagship, status that lasted three years.


Cruising exclusively around Hawaii, Pride of America sports all the trappings of flag-waving as the world’s only U.S.-registered cruise ship.


One of three ships in the fleet that didn’t have hull at birth, the Sun was decorated in its bright colors in 2004, three years after its maiden cruise.


This is where it all began, with the new Norwegian Dawn in 2004, when she was christened in Manhattan by actress Kim Cattrall.

In the news…

• Norwegian Cruise Holdings signs unprecedented 15-year lease with Port of Seattle
• No changes yet in Mariner of the Seas departure from Tianjin port after explosions
• Cruise Lines International Association President/CEO resigns after five weeks

Today at portsandbows.com: First Carnival readings of new Seuss book

Costa Mediterranea
7 nights
November 13, 2015
Venice (return): Trieste, Split, Kotor, Argostoli, Corfu, Dubrovnik
Inside: $449
Cost per day: $79

Friday File: Epic Tale Of An Epic Ship

The Norwegian Epic is in Barcelona now, the first month of the rest of its life, so it isn’t ever returning to North America. It seems people either love the Epic or hate it and, judging by the awards it has won, there are more lovers than haters. When it goes in for refurbishing in late September, the Epic will be re-designed for its permanent European clientele. Below are photos of some of what remains, and what doesn’t (or won’t)…


O’Sheehan’s, a favorite stop of ours, is expanding in dry dock, surprising only because it was named after CEO Kevin O’Sheehan, and he’s gone.


No more Blue Men on the Epic, replaced by Broadway shows Ballroom Blitz and (come October) Priscilla Queen of the Desert.


A cruise line promising to cater to families had to have a water slide and the Epic’s was the first tube-and-bowl type of any cruise ship.


Norwegian’s entree into specialty restaurants has a funereal look to its entrance, but inside are some of the best steaks you’ll find anywhere.


In two Epic cruises, we've never seen that bowling at sea is espcially busy, but it's busy enough to keep it on the ship beyond September…we think.


If she looks like Britney Spears, she’s supposed to, as one of the tribute acts in Legends In Concert, another European entertainment casualty.


The Epic’s most controversial design was having almost-see-through glass doors on the bathrooms, and it’s expected refurbishing will change that.


One solution to the coziness of balcony rooms is to upgrade to what Norwegian calls The Haven, where the smallest rooms look like this one.


And part of being a resident of The Haven is having access to the Courtyard, where privacy is at a premium and butlers are always nearby.

In the news…

• Celebrity adding overnights on longer Caribbean cruises in 2016 (Travel Weekly)
• Cunard to live-stream Monday's 175th anniversary celebrations from Liverpool

Today at portsandbows.com: Silversea's Silver Select promotion

Norwegian Gem
7 nights
September 26, 2015
New York (return): Saint John, Halifax, Portland, Bar Harbor
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

Still Looking Young After 200 Trips

This is quite the woman. She has crossed the Atlantic Ocean 200 times. She has served 8.4 million cups of tea, 980,000 scones and 644,000 eggs. She has logged more than half a million miles yet looks pretty much the same as she did nine years ago.

I'd say this was my wife — who is also quite the woman — except that she serves coffee, not tea.

The object of my affection…er, attention…this weekend is, of course, the Queen Mary 2. This weekend marks the end of her 200th Transatlantic "crossing." All of them are from Southampton to New York or vice-versa, and this one is vice-versa. She may be in Southampton as you read this and, knowing how the British are about Cunard ships, it should surprise nobody if there's a big celebration.

The ship the Queen Mary 2 succeeded is now a tourist attraction-cum-hotel and lives in Southern California. Her predecessor was used extensively to transport troops across the ocean during World War II and she sailed the high seas for three decades until time and the cost of crossings caught up with her. She was retired to a life of luxury in Long Beach in 1967.

The original's successor didn't come along until 27 years later. Her maiden voyage was in January 2004 after she was christened by another "Queen 2" — Elizabeth the 2nd, the current and long-serving British monarch. Since then the Queen Mary 2 has become something of an icon, as the oldest of the three ships in the Cunard fleet. Stephen Payne OBE, the man who designed the ship was on her this week, the guest of honor at a gala dinner on Thursday night, one of many special events held during the 200th crossing.

We have never sailed on the Queen Mary 2, alas, but we have a friend who has been on the ship many times. The fact that he keeps going back speaks volumes about the ship's attractiveness.

At 200 crossings, she is still young. The Queen Elizabeth 2 crossed the Atlantic 812 times. The original QE crossed 896 times. The record is 1,001 times.

That's right…it was her "mother."



Norwegian Gem
7 nights
August 31, 2013
New York (return): Port CanaveralGreat Stirrup CayNassau
Inside: $689
Cost per day: $98

Ships Becoming Sound Specific

When the Royal Princess makes its grand entrance next month in Southampton, the ship's horn will play the theme song from The Love Boat…and if you don't know the tune you weren't watching TV in the '70s.

Princess calls it "a whimsical decision." Until now, to the best of our knowledge Disney was the only cruise line to play "the horn" with any regularity — you can hear When You Wish Upon A Star whenever a Disney ship is leaving a port. Some Princess ships have played The Love Boat theme after the original "Love Boat" (Pacific Princess) left the fleet.

Could this become a trend?

Think about it…

The Norwegian Breakaway has a wide choice of artists: Art Garfunkel, Kelly Clarkson, Kris Kristofferson, The Beach Boys and Donna Summer all recorded songs called Breakaway.

Celebrity's Reflection happens to belong to a company based in Miami, home of Christina Aguilera. whose song of that title was her first single to chart in the U.S.

From Cunard's three ships, we could be listening to We Three Queens…even when it's not Christmas.

The Carnival Glory could play a few bars from Glory, a rap song which Jay-Z calls his “greatest creation” written after little Blue Ivy Carter made parents of him and Beyonce.

Royal Caribbean's "Rhapsody" of the Seas is a natural for Queen's signature song, even if the passengers aren't Bohemenian.

If Princess tires of hearing its Love Boat music, there's always a Frankie Valli song for the "Dawn" Princess, and a Kenny Rogers favorite for the "Ruby" Princess.

And then there's the Carnival "Ecstasy"…but we really don't want to go there.

(photo credit: Jean-Philippe Boulet)

Norwegian Gem
7 nights
November 25, 2013
New York (return): San Juan, Philipsburg, St. Thomas, Samana
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97

Oasis Huge in More Than Size

Biggest isn't always best, but it is always boast, because that's what happens when somebody has the biggest…whatever. They boast.

Travelers flocked to the first jumbo jet — can you believe the first 747 flew in 1970? — and cruisers have continually been lured to sail on the ever-changing "biggest" cruise ship.

In 2009, Oasis of the Seas came along and set the bar high, a record level of almost 9,000 passengers and crew, 1,186 feet from bow to stern (almost four football fields long) and 225,000 tons (five times the weight of the Titanic and seven times the weight of a 747).

It was a freak. Manute Bol on a hull.

Cruise passengers in North America have  enjoyed Oasis of the Seas since the fall of 2009. Even though it originally came from Europe, having been built in Finland, the fall of 2014 will be the first chance Europeans get to enjoy her. And guess what?

They're in love already.

A limited number of Oasis cruises in Europe went on sale earlier this month. Royal Caribbean had its highest number — ever — of pre-booking registrations. Now you can say part of that is just because of the ship's size, that it will be by far the biggest to cruise in Europe.

But even Royal Caribbean wasn't prepared for this. Reservation teams have been working overtime. Part-time workers have become full-time workers. Employees from departments where they don't have to answer phones are answering phones. And so far, only the loyalty club members (Crown & Anchor Society) have been able to buy.

They know a big thing when they hear about it.

Norwegian Gem
7 nights
May 4, 2013
New York (return): Port Canaveral, Great Stirrup Cay, Nassau
Insides: $599
Cost per day: $85

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