PHOTO: Rendering of Norwegian Cruise Line's Project Leonardo ship class. (photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line)
“What goes around comes around” is very true in the cruise industry right now, especially as it pertains to exterior ship design.
It would seem AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line are the source for emerging trends as recently seen in renderings at the Seatrade Cruise Global convention.
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First and foremost, the predominant strategy is to be as bold as possible. No longer can any cruise ships be cookie-cutter in nature like the seagoing equivalents of track homes flying under the radar. As competition gets increasingly stiffer, they all must stand out as much as possible, and these books will thus first be judged by their covers.
AIDA Cruises’ new AIDAprima was the first modern cruise ship to reintroduce a vertical bow, not unlike classic ocean liners but a marked departure from the more common clipper type. Next, it was expected that Celebrity Cruises would reveal that its upcoming Celebrity Edge would similarly sport the 90-degree variety seen in unofficial renderings, but the premium line has been publicly coy about revealing anything final.
Instead, Norwegian Cruise Line beat Celebrity to the punch, revealing that its future Project Leonardo ships would definitively feature more of a blunt bow. In fact, it will be slightly inverted, as the tip of the bow sits behind the leading edge that is angled outwards below. Now, some are wondering if Celebrity might pull back from its seemingly initial plans to take a similar approach.
READ MORE: Norwegian Unveils Bold New Ship Design
Where Celebrity is not being shy, however, is in unveiling the Magic Carpet off the side of the Edge. Unlike the bow design, this unique feature is truly unprecedented as a cantilevered platform that serves various purposes ascending and descending the height of the ship. It’s a remarkable element that only leaves spectators questioning why the line has chosen to paint it bright orange. But it certainly is bold.
Another new trend is symmetry and asymmetry. Looking at models of Celebrity Edge’s top decks, I was impressed by a jogging track that weaves up and down like the go-kart racetrack on Norwegian’s new Norwegian Joy. Meanwhile, Project Leonardo sports a similar symmetry in length as MSC’s new MSC Seaside also does.
READ MORE: An In-Depth Look At Celebrity Cruises' New Edge
At first glance, it appears that the Seaside and Leonardo could almost be sister-ships. As it turns out, that might not be entirely coincidental: Back in 2013, the Fincantieri shipbuilder charged with constructing both presented its Project Mille prototype. The design calls for a narrower superstructure stabilized with a better-balanced hull—the same touted by MSC, as well as a more efficient distribution of public venues.
With even a similar placement of glass-enclosed atriums and suspended outer decks, it would seem that Norwegian is basing its new ships on the same Fincantieri design. Different cruise brands have based ships within a shared class in the past, just as car manufacturers have matched cars on a shared platform, even as they are typically all within the same corporate family.
However, it would be unusual for two competing cruise lines to share similar hardware, even though their software would surely set them apart.
Hull art will also likely differentiate Norwegian’s ships from the Seaside, but so far none has been revealed specific to any one ship.
Actually, there is one thing both Norwegian and MSC are taking cues from Carnival Cruise Line on: An outdoor lanai over the stern like the Havana Pool & Bar on the Carnival Vista. So there you have it, the aforementioned saying is indeed true.