Steady as she goes for NCL

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The news from today’s Press conference on board Norwegian Epic is that . . . well, there is no news.
Putting a positive spin on the way in which NCL’s fortunes have been turned around since re-structuring began in 2008, CEO Kevin Sheehan had to admit that there are no firm plans for new ships to be added to the fleet in the wake of the billion-dollar Epic.
The company’s former bosses had originally ordered two ships but the economic downturn a couple of years ago forced a major re-think and one of them was cancelled.
Now Epic has been delivered from its French builders, and paid for at a reduced price in dollar terms because of the recent weakening of the euro, it will take a while for Sheehan and his management team to decide when to order another, and it is unlikely to be as big as this 153,000-ton giant.
In a rambling answer to a question from me, Sheehan said that although cruise sales – and fares – were on the increase, recent volatility in the stock market had forced them to take another pause.
While conceding that he needed to put “some sizzle on the steak” to attract investors, and suggesting that there might be some bargains to be had as European shipyards looked for new orders to keep their workforces employed, he held back from announcing NCL’s next step.
And when he had finished answering, he turned to executive vice-president Andy Stuart with a grin and said “I didn’t say anything, did I?”
Next year NCL will switch their Baltic cruises from home-porting in Dover to sailing from Copenhagen, and for the first time in several years, will have no ships operating no-fly cruises from the UK.
Stuart could offer no consolation to Bill Gibbons of the Passenger Shipping Association, who had asked if there had been any re-think.
“We don’t have any immediate plans to have a ship in the UK,” he said. “We will be selling fly-cruises to the Mediterranean, which is the biggest UK market, and to northern Europe and the Caribbean.”
One little nugget of information which did emerge was that it will be some months before Epic actually sails with a full complement of 4,200 passengers. The ship’s maiden transatlantic crossing to New York, which leaves Southampton tomorrow, is said to be sold out, but I suspect many of those on board will be workmen putting the finishing touches to its interior.
Roberto Martinoli, president and chief operating officer, said occupancy would be ramped up gradually, and it would be the end of August or beginning of September before it reached full capacity.

By | 2010-06-23T16:46:07+00:00 23 June 2010|Cruise news|1 Comment

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

One Comment

  1. J BARTLETT 23 June 2010 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Has NCL a star rating in comparison to other cruise lines and how do I find out about the quality of their cruises?

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