In 1966 the venture that would become Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) was founded by two cruise legends – Knut Kloster and Ted Arison. Trading as Norwegian Caribbean Line, their first ship was the Sunward, a 8,666-ton car ferry. In 1966 this operated as a car-ferry between Southampton and Gibraltar. Although Ted Arison left in 1972 to form Carnival Cruise Lines, the company thrived under Kloster, the son of a Norwegian shipping magnate.
In 2018 we saw just how far NCL has come since those early days. PackThePJs attended the inaugural cruise of Norwegian Bliss, which is the pinnacle of NCL’s achievement (to date). We’ve written SO MUCH about Bliss on this page – everything from the ship’s many highlights, accommodation options, kids clubs (Guppies, Splash Academy, Entourage), the famous karting track, food/restaurants, cafes, and the spa. The ship was so photogenic we took over 700 photos!
An Exciting Announcement
PackThePJs are official ‘social media ambassadors’ for NCL’s next amazing ship, Norwegian Encore. As one of just three ambassadors chosen, we will witness all the key stages in the build of this fourth ship in the Breakaway Plus class, all the way up to her joining the NCL fleet in the Autumn of 2019. We are incredibly excited with this amazing opportunity, which kicks off with the Keel Laying Ceremony, at the shipyard in Germany, next month. Watch this space for our posts 🙂
“Where our fellow family blogger friends cover pregnancy from conception all the way to birth and beyond – we’re about to do the same, but the baby is a huge cruise ship. How cool is that!”
In 1979 NCL acquired the ocean liner SS France and undertook an extensive rebuild – converting her from a liner into the world’s first dedicated cruise ship at sea. Renaming her SS Norway, the conversion cost more than $100 million. The redesign allocated huge spaces for a new variety of onboard entertainment. The move towards luxury and passenger entertainment saw the introduction of new luxury staterooms, two-deck movie theatres and casinos.
This was a watershed, not just for NCL but the whole cruise industry, paving the way for a new era of giant cruise ships. NCL recently discovered an old advert, which still applies today 🙂
Lots of ‘Firsts’
NCL reached an agreement with the Cuban government for port access in December 2016. The following May, Norwegian Sky became the first NCL vessel to ever visit Cuba. Norwegian Sky makes weekly trips from Miami to Havana, Cuba. This is the only ship sailing the route on a weekly basis.
More NCL ‘Industry Firsts’ of Note …
NCL was the cruise line to offer ‘fly cruises’ combining low cost air fares with cruising. They were the first to develop new ports in the Caribbean, such as Ocho Rios in Jamaica. In a salute to the past, a more recent accomplishment for NCL is the premium all-inclusive program. This provides tips, drinks and other services in the price of the cruise. Norwegian has been very influential over the years. Indeed they are responsible for many of the cruise innovations that have now become standard throughout the industry. On Norwegian Bliss we were particularly impressed by the fantastic single-traveller cabins and lounge … and of course the first ever two-deck go-kart track at sea!
The Sunny State of NCL’s Future
NCL has always been a go-getting and innovative company. This is shown by their expansion into every viable cruise market across the globe. They are developers, nurturers and initiators. In May 2017, NCL announced the construction of a new Port Miami Terminal in the Sunshine State of Florida.
This is scheduled to open in the fall of 2019, with a proposed opening day coinciding with the arrival of Norwegian Encore! How amazing will that double-celebration be! Encore will be the first ship to use the new terminal – the synchronisation of these two big construction projects is therefore crucial. From the end of 2019 Norwegian Encore will sail the Caribbean from her homeport in Miami.
Between 2022 and 2027 Fincantieri will deliver six new Leonardo class ships. This will provide Norwegian Cruise Line with an agile, luxurious and technologically advanced fleet to face the future cruise market.