NCL announced today that it will build two new 2,400-berth Freestyle Cruising ships with delivery dates in time for the summer season of 2007. One ship will be built at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany and will be delivered in February 2007. The other ship will be built at the Helsinki, Finland yard of Aker Finnyards and will be delivered in May 2007.
The orders are subject to documentation and certain conditions being fulfilled before becoming effective, including inter alia, the securing of specified financing packages. The aggregate effective all-up cost of the two ships is estimated to be €770 million, or approximately $1 billion at today’s exchange rates.
The Meyer ship will be an exact repeat of the Norwegian Jewel, currently under construction at that yard and due for delivery in August 2005. It will have 2,384 lower berths, 10 restaurants, an expansive top-of-ship complex of Garden Villas and Courtyard Villas, multiple lounges, bars, and entertainment venues, and some 540 staterooms and suites with private balconies.
The Aker Finnyards ship will be a new design, incorporating all of the features of the series of purpose-built Freestyle Cruising ships that NCL has introduced since 2001. Slightly larger in capacity than the Meyer ship, it will have around 2,430 berths. Additionally, it will have over 840 staterooms and suites with private balconies. In a first for the industry, every outside stateroom on this huge ship will have its own private balcony.
The Aker Finnyard’s order will include an option for a second ship, for delivery in early 2008, with exercise of the option by end of August 2005.
Commenting on the new orders, Star Cruises chairman Tan Sri K T Lim said: “These new orders confirm our strong confidence in this business and our commitment to rapidly renewing the NCL fleet and putting ourselves in the position very soon of having the youngest fleet in the industry.”
The two new ships will be the eighth and ninth new ships introduced to the NCL fleet since Star took control of the company in early 2000, bringing the investment in new ships since that time to over $3.75 billion.
According to Colin Veitch, President and CEO of NCL, “We are very pleased to have been able to strike these deals at prices that make sense for us in spite of the weak dollar exchange rate. We will be building with two excellent shipyards and we know that these will be top quality, high-earning ships and strong additions to our Freestyle Cruising fleet.
“We are very pleased indeed to be continuing our relationship with Meyer Werft, a relationship that has spanned almost a decade and that has resulted in the delivery already of four world class ships to our group, and now a total of three more on order. With Meyer we know what we are getting and we are very satisfied with that.”
Since 1998, Meyer has delivered Superstar Leo (now Norwegian Spirit), Superstar Virgo, Norwegian Star, and Norwegian Dawn, and is building Norwegian Jewel, Pride of Hawai`i, and now this additional repeat of Norwegian Jewel.
“We are equally pleased”, Veitch said, “to be re-opening our relationship with Aker Finnyards after an interval of roughly 16 years since the same shipyard delivered the NCL ship Seaward in 1988. And we are excited at the design solution we and the yard have been able to arrive at that gives an unprecedented number of balcony cabins on a Panamax ship. It will be the “richest” ship in the NCL fleet in terms of revenue potential.”
NCL has a program in place to transfer to Star Cruises, all six of the mid-size middle-aged ships that constitute the core NCL fleet from pre-Star days. Between 2005 and 2009 over 8,000 berths will leave the NCL fleet, and therefore a major new building program is under way not only to replace those transferred berths but also to continue to grow the fleet at the same time. By expanding its building activities beyond its traditional one yard, NCL will access greater capacity to meet these needs.
“We wanted two new ships in time for the summer of 2007,” Veitch said, “and no one yard could do that for us so we are now at the point where it makes sense for us to start working with more than one yard.”
NCL Corporation ("NCL") is an innovative cruise company headquartered in Miami, Florida, with a fleet of 14 ships in service and under construction. The corporation oversees the operations of Norwegian Cruise Line, NCL America, and Orient Lines. On July 4, 2004, NCL made U.S. maritime history when it introduced the reflagged Pride of Aloha, the first modern U.S.-flagged cruise ship in nearly 50 years. The 2,002 passenger ship is 100% U.S.-crewed, and sails year-round in Hawaii under the NCL America brand alongside Norwegian Wind from sister brand, Norwegian Cruise Line. The company is currently building three ships, including two more for the NCL America brand in Hawai`i - Pride of America (delivery in June 2005) and Pride of Hawai`i (delivery in April 2006). Norwegian Jewel will join the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet in August 2005.