Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Leonardo class of ship will have aft cabins that look like Miami condominiums and have a much wider boardwalk area so that passengers feel more connected with the ocean.
“The connection to the sea is definitely going to be to the next level in this next class of ship,” said Andy Stuart, NCL’s president and CEO.
“What we’ve learned from this class of ship is people want that…We are bringing the connection to the ocean that’s typically on the top deck more effectively down to the lower decks,” he told Cruise Critic.
The line plans to roll out four of these new class of ships from 2022, 2023, 2024 and 2025 with options to build another two in 2026 and 2027.
NCL’s Miami-condo style of cabins will be similar to what MSC introduced when it built the 5000-passenger MSC Seaside with “beach condo” cabins.
The Leonardo class of ship can accommodate 3300 passengers each – smaller than the newly launched 4000-guest Norwegian Bliss.
While the Bliss will have a new technology program called Cruise Norwegian which offers a multitude of functions that can be used from the time of booking through to disembarkation day, Mr Stuart said the line will not be rushing into making the new class of ship fully “robotic.”
Instead, he said, NCL will adopt a more “thoughtful” approach to technology.
“You don’t want 4000 people wandering around the ship staring at their phone. And I think you’ve got to be careful you don’t have 1800 crew with their heads in iPads.
“We think we can meaningfully change the guest experience using technology but we don’t want to do it in a detrimental way.”
The design of the ship will also optimise fuel consumption and reduce the impact on the environment.
Mr Stuart said NCL decided to introduce a smaller footprint for the Leonardo class of ship to give it more flexibility and variety.
It will also give the line more options in the choice of ports.
“There are some ports which can’t take a big ship like Bliss…There are some where we’d prefer to start with 2000 but 3300 gives us something in the middle with a lot more flexibility to enter a destination a bit earlier than with a big ship.”
Mr Stuart also quashed plans that NCL will send a second ship, Norwegian Encore to debut in late 2019, to join Norwegian Joy in China where growth has slowed down.
“We think about China as another market. We’re not going to obsess about it. We see it as a market with long-term opportunity. Joy is making money, guests are happy and we’ll review deployment. There are no short-term plans to put another ship into China.’’
He said that the North America cruise market is strong and people are booking cruises two years ahead.