During the inaugural cruise aboard Norwegian Bliss, from Bremerhaven to Southampton, Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO, Andy Stuart, revealed further details about the line’s Leonardo class cruise ships, which are currently in development and due for launch from 2022 onwards.
Norwegian Cruise Line has ordered four Leonardo class cruise ships. The first is due in 2022, with the other three due for delivery between 2023 and 2025. There is an option for two more, but Stuart said the line had not yet made a decision on when such an option might be exercised.
The new class of cruise ships will be the second-largest in the fleet after the Breakaway Plus trio, carrying just 3,300 passengers. According to Stuart this will give the ships greater flexibility in terms of deployment.
“The Leonardo Class will be a slightly smaller footprint, so that gives you more options in terms of ports. There are some ports which can’t take a big ship like Bliss,” he said. “And there are some ports that from a capacity standpoint we wouldn’t want to go in with a brand-new ship that has 4,200 beds, we’d prefer to start with one with 3,300 beds.”
Despite the smaller size, the ships will be roomier than the current flagships, with a larger gross tonnage to passenger ratio. They will also feature a much larger Waterfront, with wider deck space and a huge Boardwalk-type design aft.
The Leonardo class will also have a series of aft cabins that look like Miami condos, very similar to what MSC Cruises did with the Seaside class, but Stuart insists that it is the Breakaway Plus design that inspired it.
“The connection to the sea is definitely going to be to the next level in this next class of ship,” Stuart said. “What we’ve learned from [the Breakaway ships] is people want that…We are bringing the connection to the ocean that’s typically on the top deck more effectively down to lower decks.”
The ship will have an inverted bow, which will improve its flow through the water, reducing fuel consumption and pitching in head seas. And although Stuart says the inverted bow makes the ship look “more futuristic,” they won’t feature any pioneering new fuel technology.
Norwegian Cruise Line seems to have little interest in the LNG-powered cruise ships being developed for Carnival Cruise Line.
“The next new build, we will evaluate all the technologies available to us,” Stuart said. “We don’t have a specific class beyond Leonardo at this point and we don’t have any specific plans. We have the two options for Leonardo but it’s not possible for us to change those ships.”
Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, says the four new Leonardo class cruise ships will definitely not be LNG powered.
In terms of on-board technologies, Stuart said there would be no major advancements, such as robots or further automation.
He said the line takes a “thoughtful “approach to technology, and approach exemplified by the redevelopment of iConcierge into the Cruise Norwegian app that allows guests to make dining reservations, plan which shows to attend and book time on the racetrack or Laser Tag aboard the Breakaway ships.
This is as far as Norwegian is likely to go though, in terms of digitization of the cruise experience, while Princess Cruises has rolled out the Ocean Medallion and Carnival Cruises has revamped the Carnival Hub app.
“You don’t want 4,000 people wandering around the ship staring at their phone,” says Stuart.
“And I think you’ve got to be careful you don’t have 1,800 crew with their heads in iPads. We think we can meaningfully change the guest experience using technology but we don’t want to do it in a detrimental way,” he adds.
Embarkation is one area where Stuart sees technology playing a role. “We’re going to do it one step at a time and see how we can use technology to give you more choices in a more effective way.”