Inside Norwegian Cruise Line's $400 M Enhancement Program
Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
Not long after Norwegian Cruise Line implemented its $250 million Norwegian NEXT fleet refurbishment, it’s at it again with a new $400 million Norwegian Edge enhancement program that will improve the guest experience onboard and off through 2017.
The goal is to first bring the fleet up to the quality standards of the line’s newest vessels, the recently launched Norwegian Escape included, and new brand promise to “Feel Free.” Of the nine ships slated for improvements, the Norwegian Epic and Norwegian Gem have already received extensive work to this end. Refurbishments are said to go beyond mere decor updates and introduce significant hardware upgrades as well.
In October 2015, the Norwegian Epic debuted new venues such as The Cavern Club as well as refreshes of La Cucina, Cagney’s, Le Bistro, Moderno Churrascaria, The Manhattan Room and Garden Café restaurants. Elsewhere, the decor, furnishings and flooring were modernized, especially in The Haven Courtyard, Lounge and Restaurant – the exclusive ship-within-a-ship complex.
Also in November 2015, the Norwegian Gem introduced similar revitalizations that now include a redone Bliss Lounge. All specialty and some complimentary restaurants, bars and lounges received new furniture and flooring, and new pool furnishings, interactive way-finding signage, teak decking and The Haven Courtyard and Sundeck updates such as additional shade, cabanas and loungers were introduced.
Additional ships are scheduled to receive comparable enhancements during dry-dock: Pride of America and Norwegian Sun in spring 2016; Norwegian Dawn in summer 2016; Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Pearl in winter 2017, and Norwegian Jade in spring 2017. Also, as a side note, the line’s newest ships have been told to soon contain cigarette smoke in newly built separate enclosures.
“Norwegian has a long history of investing in its fleet to offer guests the latest and greatest innovations, but the investment to raise our ships to The Norwegian Edge standard of excellence takes it to new levels,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief operating officer. “The new standards of The Norwegian Edge program will entice our guests to return again and again to ships that will look and feel as if they were just delivered, with all new menus and new dining experiences, visiting incredible exclusive destinations that reflect the quality finishes, amenities and outstanding service found across the Norwegian fleet.”
Norwegian has already begun to elevate the quality of its cuisine, as I experienced on the new Norwegian Escape. New for 2016 are revised complimentary dining room menu offerings and optional extra-cost items like lobster tails and surf and turf entrees. Improved free items encompass a traditional and trending variety of appetizers, soups and salads, entrees and desserts such as prime rib, chateaubriand, rack of lamb and escargot as well as short ribs and more seafood: fresh grouper, shrimp ceviche and Atlantic scallops.
What’s more, come Jan. 31, Norwegian will begin rolling out expanded specialty dining menus first introduced on the new Escape fleet-wide. Items include bouillabaisse, pan-seared jumbo bay scallops and veal medallions with sauce morrel at Le Bistro; and antipasti, risotto, Osso Buco alla Milanese and pan-seared sea bass filet at La Cucina. The forthcoming introduction is scheduled as follows: Norwegian Breakaway on Jan. 31, Norwegian Getaway on Feb. 14, Norwegian Epic on March 6, Pride of America after her dry-dock on March 15, Norwegian Gem on April 1 and Norwegian Dawn after her dry-dock in June.
Amid shakeups with celebrity chefs, as some have been changed out from Geoffrey Zakarian to Jose Garces, for instance, existing culinary partnerships are expected to continue on the enhanced ships as they reemerge. Plus, Norwegian is expanding its chef training to include American Culinary Federation (ACF) certification. Beyond dining, three new training centers have been established internationally to provide education for crew members prior to joining the ships.
Norwegian’s private destinations also promise new excitement, including at the delayed new Harvest Caye, Belize port once introduced. Here guests will experience an expansive pool, exclusive beach, water-sports lagoon, private cabanas and more. The line’s other Great Stirrup Cay island in the Bahamas is also set to receive new features like private spaces, relaxation areas, several food and beverage outlets and interactive activities in spring 2017 that will be detailed later in the year.
The Norwegian Next enhancement program announcement comes just a day after corporate cousin Regent Seven Seas Cruises introduced its own improvement plans.
To book a Norwegian Cruise Line sailing, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784), or visit www.ncl.com.
More by Jason Leppert
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions