Norwegian embarks on wide-ranging $250m ship, product enhancement program

Sheehan - aim to provide fresh and relevant experiences each time guests sail Sheehan - aim to provide fresh and relevant experiences each time guests sail

Norwegian Cruise Line said it will invest more than $250m in a program focused on spreading 'new enhancements, experiences and transformations' across the fleet as it seeks to elevate its offering in line with Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway.

'Norwegian NEXT' encompasses ship revitalizations, dining enhancements, new entertainment and activities, technology innovations, a new tropical destination and a continued environmental commitment.

Through 2015, Norwegian plans to revitalize a number of vessels, such as Norwegian Jewel, which just re-entered service following drydock.

'We want to continue to provide fresh and relevant experiences to our guests every time they sail with us,' said Norwegian president and ceo Kevin Sheehan.

Freestyle Dining is set to go to the 'NEXT' level with the introduction of new menus in complimentary dining rooms and Garden Cafes that offer more variety and choice, including new dishes crafted by chefs using the finest ingredients. New food and beverage venues are also being introduced across the fleet.

Norwegian Jewel became the first to be retrofitted with the popular, complimentary dining spot, O'Sheehan's Neighborhood Bar & Grill. Norwegian Jewel also added the Sugarcane Mojito Bar, introduced on Norwegian Getaway, adjacent to the new location of the Moderno Churrascaria Brazilian-style steak house.

In addition, treats from Carlo's Bake Shop by Buddy Valastro, star of TLC's 'Cake Boss' and 'Next Great Baker,' will be featured on all ships.

Concerning beverages, a partnership with the Michael Mondavi Family has already introduced a new wine menu across the fleet and the family is curating wine concepts for Norwegian's newbuilds. 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 seasonal specialty cocktails with a local twist. There will be extra fleetwide training of bartenders, wine stewards and restaurant managers.

New activities will be introduced across the fleet, too. The H2GLOW Party on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway will also be rolled out fleetwide. And Norwegian is producing a series of new shows at its recently opened 45,000-square-foot rehearsal facility, Norwegian Creative Studios, in Tampa.

From soaring acrobats in 'Elements,' to the 15-foot revolving showgirl staircase in 'Paradis' to rocking out with the full rock band in 'Rock of Ages,' Norwegian's entertainment will be customized for every ship and itinerary with lineups that the line said 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 favorites like SpongeBob SquarePants.

Norwegian said advanced technologies and innovations will bring more freedom and flexibility with enhanced pre-cruise planning. And on board, there is Wi-Fi access from bow to stern along with interactive digital displays that are being added fleetwide. These touch screen signs enable passengers to order specialty items, get directions and reserve dining and shore excursions by scanning their stateroom key.

Passengers can also use Norwegian's iConcierge mobile application to manage their cruise activities and stay in touch with fellow cruisers and family at home.

Norwegian is bundling its environmental efforts into 'NEXT' as well, with exhaust gas scrubbers to be installed on six ships in addition to those that are already being fitted on Pride of America and the newbuilds Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Bliss.

Shoreside, Norwegian said it will continue to enhance private island Great Stirrup Cay, while also developing Harvest Caye in southern Belize. That new 75-acre destination is planned to open in fall 2015.

Posted 20 May 2014

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Anne Kalosh

Editor, Seatrade Cruise News & Senior Associate Editor Seatrade Cruise Review