Will Norwegian Cruise Line ever build a ship significantly bigger than its just-unveiled Norwegian Bliss?
Norwegian president and CEO Andy Stuart doesn’t dismiss the idea. But if it happens, it could be some time, he suggests. Right now the Miami-based company is focused on developing a new series of smaller vessels called the Leonardo Class that will begin debuting in 2022.
“I don’t rule out (a bigger ship),” Stuart tells USA TODAY during an interview aboard Bliss — at 168,028 tons, Norwegian’s largest ship ever. But “who knows what we do beyond the Leonardo Class.”
Norwegian has four of the Leonardo Class ships on order for delivery between 2022 and 2025 with options for two more in 2026 and 2027. The vessels will measure 140,000 tons — about 17% less than Bliss and two other recent Norwegian ships of the same class, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Joy. The Leonardo Class ships will carry 3,300 passengers at double occupancy vs. 4,004 for Bliss.
“We love this idea of a group of ships that are in the 2000-passenger range, 3,000-passenger range and 4,000-passenger range,” Stuart says.
Stuart says the Leonardo Class ships will come in handy when the line wants to expand capacity in a destination where it current has a 2,000-passenger ship. Swapping in a Leonardo Class ship that carries around 3,000 passengers is a more logical next step than going straight to a 4,000-passenger ship.
“It’s quite a big jump to double our capacity at a port, and so this idea of bringing a brand new ship to a destination with 3,000 people instead of 4,000 people gives us more flexibility,” he says.
“There are more ports available to a 3,000-passenger ship than a 4,000-passenger ship,” he adds.
That said, there definitely is a place in the fleet for giant vessels such as Bliss, which debuted over the weekend. In addition to being Norwegian’s biggest ship ever, the 20-deck-high, 1,082-foot-long vessel ranks among the 10 largest cruise ships of all time from any line.
“They are incredibly successful,” Stuart says of Bliss and its slightly smaller sisters Escape and Joy, which collectively are known as the Breakaway-Plus Class. “We are thrilled with this class of ship. The guest satisfaction has been extremely high.”…
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