Theres something unmistakable about the
Pride of America. Maybe its NCL Americas decision to wrap the Pride
of America in Old Glory. The ships exterior hull is painted with
broad stripes and bright stars that stream out from the bow.
Maybe its the
U.S. flag fluttering off the back of the ship, unfurling with its
stars and stripes the differences between this all-American girl
and its foreign-bannered kin (although Pride of America did spend
some of its formative years in the company of German
Maybe its the
forward section, which juts upward as though the entire ship is
putting up a stiff upper lip.
After all, this
cruise ship, delivered last month, already has survived a battle
for a federal loan; sat in Mississippi after its original owners
went bankrupt; was towed across the ocean by its new owners to be
reconfigured; was the subject of a Congressional battle over an
exemption to fly the Stars and Stripes; and, in its most
ignominious moment, sank to the bottom of its berth at the shipyard
where it was being readied for a star-spangled debut.
The $400 million
ship departed on its first cruise last month.
Now that you can
see what weve created, I think youll agree it was worth the wait,
NCLs CEO Colin Veitch said during the Americas christening ceremony
during its maiden U.S. call in New York.
And God bless
America, she looks pretty good.
NCLs vice president of newbuilds and refurbishment, said the extra
time the America spent in the dock gave interior architects and
designers more time to outfit the ship.
The America, like
other ships, was built based on a reference vessel -- in this case
the Norwegian Sun. We had more architects [on the America] than on
the Sun at the time, Young said.
Line hadnt embraced heavy theming in its previous ships, but theyve
relented for the NCL America fleet. The Pride of Aloha and the
upcoming Pride of Hawaii pay homage to Hawaii; the Pride of America
is decked out in American themes.
The Pride of
Americas focal point, of course, is the Capitol Atrium, which
reflects various aspects of Washingtonian glory -- all red carpets,
white columns and federal accents. Ensconced in the middle of the
rotunda floor is a replica of the Great Seal of the U.
theme is revisited in the Liberty restaurant, which has
blue-starred bunting for the curtains and red-and-white-striped
chairs. The theme also is in Jeffersons Bistro, NCLs Le
Bistro-turned-Monticello. On one end of the room is the library,
although the books are fake. For the real thing, head down the hall
to the S.S. America Library.
The other theme
that gets play in more than one room is Hawaii, which makes sense
since thats where the ship will sail. That includes Pinks Bar,
which is based on the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu. The Aloha
Cafe is the Lido buffet restaurant, the first NCL ship to make use
of food islands to reduce long buffet lines.
area is the hideaway Lanai Bar and Lounge, a funky, 1970s-corporate
take on the theme. The lounge is part of the massive, and
impressive, meetings section of the America.
NCL is hoping to
attract meetings business -- on a U.S.-flagged ship, its tax
deductible. The focal point here is the theater-in-the-round
auditorium, with flat-panel TVs hanging around the stage for Power
Point or video presentations. (The second focal point is NCL Golf,
where passengers, corporate or not, can rent clubs and shoes and
play courses on each of the Hawaiian islands.)
is in the details
Its clear that
the Americas rooms were carefully planned and researched because
each has detail -- skyscrapers etched into the glass in the Skyline
restaurant and menus on wood slabs in the Lazy J
Theres lots of
outdoor seating at the Aloha Cafe. The Napa Wine Bar and Cadillac
Diner also have al fresco tables on the Deck 5 Promenade, a smart
idea that we have lauded before (on the Norwegian
In the Gold Rush
Saloon, passengers can gather around barrel tables and play darts
next to a mounted bears head (fake). The Hollywood Theater requires
you to walk the red carpet past a mural of paparazzi.
Crew uniforms are
themed to the room, so servers in the Lazy J Steakhouse wear cowboy
hats, and servers in the Liberty restaurant are smart in white
suits with navy trim.
denote that the America has a distinct cruise-ship feel and is
meant to be enjoyed as its own destination, not just as a floating
hotel around the Hawaiian islands.
to these things -- which assumes that passengers will be onboard
long enough to notice them. The NCL America ships spend an
unprecedented amount of time in port, 90-plus hours per seven-day
cruise, which almost makes you wonder why the America is trying so
hard with the onboard details.
Not that anyones
complaining. NCLs top producers, who got a sneak preview of the
America during a shipyard tour in Germany earlier this month, had
nothing but praise for the ships designs.
Its not clinical,
said Jeff Sturman, of Best Cruises in Edison, N.J. It has a warm
reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to [email protected].