Last updated: 05:03 PM ET, Sat September 19 2015

Norwegian Escape Leaves Shipyard For Dutch Port, Sea Trials Next

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship | Norwegian Cruise Line | Michael Isenbek | September 19, 2015

Norwegian Escape Leaves Shipyard For Dutch Port, Sea Trials Next

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line/Patrick Buß

Starting with an exceedingly slow journey through the incredibly narrow opening of a Meyer Werft shipyard lock, Norwegian Escape marked another milestone in her journey to join the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet.

Escape’s official float-out at the shipyard was accomplished with much fanfare last month, and as announced in a recent Norwegian news release, she took the next step and departed Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany Friday.

The ship will be the largest in Norwegian’s fleet when she goes into service at the end of the year, so there was little margin for error maneuvering her 1069-foot length and 136-foot width during the 24-hour conveyance on the Ems River.

She sailed stern first throughout the Ems portion of journey, “(d)ue to the strong propulsion in the aft section of the vessel, (sailing this way) helps with maneuverability, which is a key component when navigating the vessel through such narrow passages,” the release said.

And these were definitely narrow passages, especially at the very beginning of the trip.

Escape had slightly less than four feet of clearance on the starboard side when passing through the shipyard’s locks. To safely maneuver through them took the vessel two hours at a maximum of 0.2 knots (about 0.25 mph) with no less than four crew and a group of river pilots working together, according to the release.

After navigating through a host of narrow passages on the Ems, Eemshaven, Netherlands, at the mouth of the river, is her final destination for now. There, “additional provisions and materials” will be taken on, making Escape ready for the first guests in late October, the release said. Sea trials in the North Sea will take place later this month.

Andy Stuart, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian Cruise Line expressed excitement at Escape’s imminent operations. “After seeing firsthand this week how spectacular Norwegian Escape already looks, I am thrilled that she is officially on her journey to welcome guests next month,” he said in the release. “As the first Breakaway Plus class ship, she will offer the very best in freedom and flexibility for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet.”

Escape, with a capacity of 4,200 guests, is slated to sail weekly seven-day cruises year-round to the Eastern Caribbean from a Miami homeport starting Nov. 14 of this year, according to the release. Destinations include St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands and Nassau, Bahamas.

At 164,600 gross tons, she will be the largest ship ever to homeport year-round in Miami, the release added.

Three additional ships in the Breakaway Plus class are on order at Meyer Werft, and steel cutting for Bliss, the next one in line, has officially begun.


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