Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it is investing more than $250 million in “Norwegian NEXT,” a program focused on bringing “new enhancements, experiences and transformations” across the fleet. The goal is to elevate the guest experience, building on the success of the line’s two newest ships: Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway.
Norwegian NEXT encompasses ship revitalisations, dining enhancements, new experiences in entertainment and guest activities and expanded dining/entertainment reservation periods, along with innovations in technology, new tropical destinations and the line’s continued commitment to the environment. Through to 2015, the company has plans to revitalise a number of vessels, including Norwegian Jewel, that just re-entered service following dry dock, along with Norwegian Pearl, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Spirit, which were recently refurbished.
“The youngest fleet among the major North American cruise brands continues to get even better with our robust enhancement program taking place over the next two years,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s chief executive officer. “We want to continue to provide fresh and relevant experiences to our guests every time they sail with us. We are investing significantly in making sure that our guests have the holiday of a lifetime and fully experience what it means to Cruise like a Norwegian.”
Norwegian reinvented the dining experience at sea with the line’s Freestyle Dining concept and it is taking it to the NEXT level with the introduction of new menus in complimentary dining rooms and Garden Cafes that offer more variety and choice, including numerous new dishes crafted by expert chefs using the finest ingredients. New food and beverage venues are also being introduced across the fleet. Norwegian Jewel is the first to be retrofitted with the popular, complimentary dining venue, O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill. The line is also adding the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, first introduced on Norwegian Getaway, to Norwegian Jewel, adjacent to the new location of the Moderno Churrascaria restaurant. In addition, treats from the wildly popular Carlo’s Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC’s Cake Boss and Next Great Baker, will be featured on all ships.
Along with dining, Norwegian is also making enhancements to its beverage program. A partnership with the world-renowned Michael Mondavi Family has already introduced a new wine menu across the fleet and the family is curating wine concepts for Norwegian’s upcoming new ships. A new destination-based handcrafted beverage program developed in partnership with James Beard Award-nominated mixologist Gabriel Orta of Miami-based Bar Lab Cocktails is bringing guests seasonal specialty cocktails with a local twist. There will also be further fleet wide beverage training of bartenders, wine stewards and restaurant managers, providing guests with an even more knowledgeable staff to further enhance the dining experience on-board.
Norwegian is an innovator in entertainment and there are a wide range of new guest activities that will be introduced across the fleet. The line’s exciting new H2GLOW Party, first introduced on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will be rolled out fleet wide. Speaking of the quality of entertainment on board, the line is producing a series of new shows at its recently opened 45,000 square foot rehearsal facility, Norwegian Creative Studios, in Tampa, Florida. From soaring acrobats in “Elements,” to the 15-foot revolving showgirl staircase in “Paradis” and rocking out with the full rock band in “Rock of Ages,” Norwegian’s award-winning entertainment will be customised for every ship and itinerary with line-ups that will constantly stay fresh. With a focus on family, Norwegian’s five ships that feature exclusive Nickelodeon entertainment will offer new activities, dining experiences, and more ways to interact with Nickelodeon favourites like SpongeBob SquarePants.
Dining, entertainment and spa bookings are also to be made easier than ever with the enhancement program. Cruisers can now make speciality dining reservations up to 90 days before embarkation, 45 days earlier than the previous window. In addition, guests staying in the Line’s luxury ship-within-a-ship complex, The Haven by Norwegian, or in any other suite category, have the exclusive opportunity to make speciality dining reservations 100 days prior to their cruise. Guests sailing on-board Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway will be able to book entertainment – including immersive dinner shows – 90 days in advance of embarkation. And for those looking to indulge whilst on holiday spa reservations can now be made 90 days in advance as well.
The line is focused on introducing advanced technologies and innovations that bring more freedom and flexibility to its guests’ cruise vacation from start to finish. Enhanced pre-cruise planning experiences give guests the opportunity to easily design their holiday. Once on board, there is wireless internet access from bow to stern, along with interactive digital displays which are being added fleet wide. These touch screen signs will allow guests to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions simply with a scan of their stateroom key. Guests can also take advantage of Norwegian’s ground-breaking iConcierge mobile application to manage their cruise experience and stay in touch with fellow cruisers and family at home.
The line is also making a substantial effort to reduce its impact on the environment through its Eco-Smart Cruising programs and will install exhaust gas scrubbers on six ships, in addition to those that are already being fitted on Pride of America and the company’s two new builds, Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss. Norwegian Jewel was the first ship to undergo the technical modernization during her dry dock earlier this month. Enhancements included the addition of Green Tech Marine Scrubbers, in order to reduce fuel emissions, overall energy consumption, and the company’s environmental footprint. In addition, the ship received an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade and state-of-the-art silicone paint on the hull, in order to further improve fuel efficiency. Norwegian Jewel will also benefit from the installation of shore power connectivity. Additional significant technical and safety updates include: lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement.
Enhancements continue on the line’s private island in the Bahamas, Great Stirrup Cay, with the opening of the Bacardi Bar. In addition, the line is developing a new eco-friendly cruise destination, Harvest Caye, in southern Belize. The 75-acre experience is planned to open in Autumn 2015 and will offer guests the option to take shore excursions on the mainland or enjoy the authentic shopping village, water sports or relaxing beach area on the island.
With Norwegian NEXT, the line is demonstrating its commitment to innovation and elevating the guest experience over the next two years and beyond.