Travel Weekly's Cruise E-letter: Sept. 12, 2006

NCL CORP. placed a multi-megaship order from Aker Yards last week, signing a $2.8 billion contract for two 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger cruise ships, with an option for a third, to be delivered between 2009 and 2010. The project, currently termed F3 in reference to the fact that it would be the third generation of NCL's "Freestyle Cruising" ships, aims to build the fourth largest cruise ships in existence, eclipsed only by Royal Caribbean's 220,000-ton Genesis project, Royal Caribbean's Freedom Class ships, and Cunard's Queen Mary 2, in terms of tonnage. In terms of passengers, the ships would place second to the Genesis' projected capacity of 5,400 lower berths. Including crew, the F3 ships will carry up to 6,400 people and will be 1,066 feet long, approximately the height of the Eiffel Tower. NCL said the ships will cost $941.5 million per ship for the first two, and $896.7 million for the third. NCL said that 100% of the F3 ships' 1,470 outer staterooms and suites would have balconies.

NCL CEO COLIN VEITCH said that what's "attractive about bigger ships is you have more choice and variety onboard" and that, "we make a lot more money on them." Tan Sri KT Lim, chairman of NCL and parent Star Cruises, noted that by 2010 "there will be almost nothing left of the NCL we bought in 2000 except the name and the people. And in place of the old, mixed fleet we inherited, there will be the youngest, most innovative, and most exciting fleet in the industry." The contract with Aker represents a new partnership between the yard and NCL, which has recently built its ships with Germany's Meyer Werft yard. Veitch said he has been happy with Meyer Werft but that as NCL's building needs increased he did not want to be dependent on one shipyard.

AKER YARDS said that with this order, it has, is or will build the twelve largest cruise vessels in the world. With the acquisition of France's Chantiers d'Atlantique yard in Saint Nazaire this year, Aker became Europe's largest shipbuilder, and one of the top four worldwide. It inherited four MSC ships on order, two of which are 89,000-ton, 2,550-passenger ships and the other two 133,500-ton, 3,300- passenger vessels. Meanwhile, at Aker's shipyard in Turku, Finland, construction is moving along on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, the 168,000-ton, 3,600-passenger sister-ship to the world's current largest ship, Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas, and on the 220,000-ton, 5,400-lower berth "mega-mega" ship, currently termed Project Genesis.

PRINCESS CRUISES said it will convert completely to electronic ticketing for cruise and air bookings, becoming the first cruise line to do so -- a move the line said will enable it to provide cruise documents to its passengers earlier than any other line in the industry, and offer future passengers 24-hour access to their information through the online Cruise Personalizer. The program will replace the second of two mailings that cruise passengers receive prior to their sailing; they will still get the first mailing with information on shore excursions, the passengers' contract and FAQ's. Princess also said the program is expected to save travel agents both time and money, as they will no longer need to send final ticket packages on to clients, reducing the resources associated with handling travel documents. The transition to the Princess eTickets program will begin Nov. 17 and roll across the fleet within a few weeks with bookings on the Golden Princess to be the last to make the switch, on Dec. 16.

Cruise E-Letter Editor:

Johanna Jainchill

Phone: (201) 902-7940

[email protected]

For promotional opportunities in the E-letters, contact [email protected].


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