MIAMI — With approximately 23 million travellers expected to take a cruise this year – 70% of whom will book their cruise through a travel agent – cruises remain a lucrative business.
The new Norwegian Escape is one of this year’s most anticipated additions and is set to become the largest cruise ship ever based year-round in Miami. Launched last week, it joins the line’s slightly smaller ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, making it the line’s third in three years and the largest to date. The 4,248-guest, 164,600-ton Escape is the first in the Breakaway Plus Class and will welcome a maximum of 243,600 travellers on 58 voyages in 2016.
Norwegian Cruise Lines invited media and select guests to ‘Escape to a New World’ for a two-night sail on Norwegian Escape last week. Following the inaugural events in Miami and Europe, this revolutionary ship made its maiden voyage on Nov.14 and will sail seven-day cruises from her year-round homeport of Miami to the Eastern Caribbean, to ports including St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau.
Thanks to Norwegian’s Freestyle Cruising travellers have the freedom to enjoy more dining options than ever before on the industry’s first restaurant-lined oceanfront promenade featuring alfresco seating.
The ship is showcasing all-new upgraded menus across all restaurants, including 11 complimentary dining offerings and signature specialty restaurants.
“With Norwegian Escape, we are transforming culinary experiences at sea and continuing our legacy of innovation that has revolutionized dining in the cruise industry,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s President and COO. “We are building on our solid foundation of branded partnerships and welcoming new ideas and flavours from award-winning chefs.”
In fact Norwegian Escape is home to Jimmy Buffet’s first Margaritaville at sea and their first wine bar by the Michael Mondavi family featuring panoramic ocean views. There’s also an incredible selection of dining venues that will lure those with more refined palates, including two new restaurants by Iron Chef Jose Garces and the Food Republic, a sophisticated food hall developed by Miami-based The Pubbelly Restaurant Group.
When it comes to entertainment and relaxation, this mega-liner does not disappoint. “Norwegian also continues to pave the way as a leader in entertainment, as we bring two Tony Award-winning Broadway musicals and a post-modern cabaret direct from Los Angeles to Norwegian Escape,” said Stuart. The ship is home to an adults only grotto in H20; a giant, two-deck Mandara Spa with the all-new ice-cold Snow Room and the largest Thermal Suite at sea; and Lacoste and Carolina Herrera Boutiques.
The Escape brings guests to a new world of fun with the largest ropes course and Aqua Park at sea. The ship features a sprawling, deck-top fun zone with four major water slides; three story ropes-course, five sky-rails and two planks; a miniature golf course; a full-size basketball court; and a bocce ball court – another first for the line.
Recently, the line was named ‘Europe’s Leading Cruise Line’ for the seventh consecutive year, as well as ‘Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line’ for the third time and ‘World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line’ for the second year by the World Travel Awards.
“The stateroom offerings on Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway have been so well received that we wanted to be sure to continue to offer such a rich mix of accommodations on Norwegian Escape,” said Stuart. Norwegian Escape also features the line’s signature luxury “ship-within-a-ship” suite two-story complex, The Haven. The exclusive, key-card only access on Decks 17 and 18 includes its own enhanced courtyard area with retractable roof, private pool, restaurant, butler service and concierge.
“On Norwegian Escape, we have an optimal mix of accommodations, offering something for every type of guest whether it be solo travellers, families or those seeking the ultimate in luxury and pampering,” added Stuart. Norwegian Escape also features 48 wheelchair-accessible staterooms in a variety of categories, including suites. The ship also features Norwegian’s first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under.
Norwegian Cruise Line recently revealed a brand new Affinity Groups Program for the North American market, offering the most flexibility and strongest amenities in the cruise sector. With this industry-leading program, Norwegian is now providing affinity groups with more choices to allow greater customization based on the type of group booked, as well as the most attractive tour conductor policy in the industry.
Effective for bookings beginning Dec. 1, 2015 for sailings Jan. 1, 2016 and beyond, the new program offers the strongest guaranteed amenities for the life of the group, along with highly flexible amenity options and a tour conductor policy that rewards partners for genuine affinity groups.