Florida-bound Norwegian Escape officially world’s newest cruise ship
By Richard Tribou for Orlando Sentinel
Norwegian Cruise Line officially got its hands on its brand new ship, its biggest ship ever.
Norwegian Escape, the first of the line’s new Breakaway Plus class of ship, takes over the title of the line’s largest ship as officials took part in a handover ceremony in Bremerhaven, Germany today after the 164,600-ton ship completed its 17-month trip from drawing board to world’s newest cruise ship, courtesy of Meyer Werft shipyard.
“Norwegian Escape’s arrival marks a true evolution for our brand,” said line president and COO Andy Stuart in a press release. “We’ve capitalized on the best of our Breakaway Class ships and taken freedom and flexibility to the next level with this incredible new ship.”
Escape finished sea trials in the North Sea after making the trip from the shipyard last month. Now Escape will make its way to Hamburg, spend two nights in Southampton, England and then make the transatlantic trip to Miami on Oct. 29. The ship’s christening, courtesy of Miami native and ship godfather Pitbull, will be on Nov. 9. After that, the ship will sail year-round out of PortMiami on 7-night Caribbean itineraries.
The 4,200-passenger Escape becomes the line’s 14th ship in the fleet, and now the largest over 155,873-ton Norwegian Epic. A sister ship to Escape, formerly known as Norwegian Bliss, but now awaiting a Chinese name, is currently under construction at Meyer Werft and due in 2017. That ship is being built specifically for the Chinese market. Two more Breakaway Plus class ships are expected in 2018 and 2019. Escape is now the fifth largest ship at sea, trailing only two Oasis-class and two Quantum-class ships from Royal Caribbean.
Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of Miami-based industry website CruiseGuy.com, was in Germany and had a tour of the ship before its conveyance in September.
“It was definitely an impressive ship,” Chiron said. “There were definite improvements on the ship compared to Breakaway and Getaway. The look and the feel and the flow of the ship has been improved. The dining options were upgraded. The bars and lounges are going to be fun. There are some nice additions.”
Escape has a lot of Miami and South Florida influences, from the hull artwork from marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey to the first Margaritaville at Sea. Also on board will be a version of Miami’s famed Tobacco Road blues bar, a craft beer hall partnering with Wynwood Brewing Company and a dining partnership with restaurateurs Jose Mendin, Andreas Schreiner and Sergio Navarro of The Pubbelly Restaurant Group, which has opened six dining concepts in South Florida in the past three years.
Other notable features of the ship include the largest water park at sea, largest ropes course at sea, a spa with a snow room and Tony Award-winning musical productions “Million Dollar Quartet” and “After Midnight” as well as an ode the 80s films of director John Hughes like “The Breakfast Club.”