NCL Plans to Develop an Eco-Friendly Destination in Belize

Artist representation of the proposed destination. Provided by Norwegian Cruise Line
Artist representation of the proposed destination. Provided by Norwegian Cruise Line

Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it has purchased approximately 75 acres in Southern Belize for the planned development of an eco-friendly cruise destination. The land, called Harvest Caye, is made up of two adjoining islands in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts that had previously been approved for a resort development with an air strip. Norwegian plans to invest $50 million in the project.

“As our fleet continues to grow to 15 ships by 2017, we expect that we will double the number of guests sailing on our Western Caribbean itineraries and, once this new destination is complete, bring four times as many guests to Belize than we do today,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and CEO. “In our quest to continuously look for new and exciting destinations for our guests, we plan to develop a cruise destination focused on sustainable design and eco-friendly principles that will retain the natural beauty and local culture of this tropical paradise.”

Norwegian has retained IDEA Inc. of Orlando, Fla. to design the destination and bring the project to fruition. IDEA is an industry leading designer of branded ports of call and branded destinations for the hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries. IDEA has worked with private developers, government ministries, and independent agencies to create branded destinations in Alaska; Florida; St. Lucia; St. Maarten; Mexico; St. Kitts; Honduras; Bahamas; and Jamaica.

“This project will set a new standard in the development of an eco-friendly destination. Rather than an imposed plan, we are focused on a design approach that is determined by the local environment to ensure that the unique surroundings and features of the area will be protected and showcased for all to enjoy,” said Hugh Darley, president of IDEA, Inc.

“At Norwegian, we have a strong commitment to the environment through our Eco-Smart Cruising philosophy. We will continue that commitment as we develop the Belize project and ensure that we are socially responsible in everything we do,” said Colin Murphy, vice president, destination and strategic development for Norwegian Cruise Line.

While the master plan for the 75 acres is still under development, the vision is to create a world-class cruise destination, consisting of two locations: an island destination with docking/tendering facilities and a mainland connection point for inland tours. Major components of the project are anticipated to include a floating pier, island village with open-air structures on raised platforms, marina, transportation hub for tours to the mainland, a lagoon for a variety of water sports and a relaxing beach area. The goal is to design an authentic experience grounded in the storyline of nature, ancient culture, art, adventure and music that celebrates Belizean, Mayan and Garifuna history and culture.

The Government of Belize and Norwegian have signed a memorandum of understanding on the development that calls for adherence to Belize’s environmental standards, creation of jobs for Belizeans, as well as significant economic impact, among other items.

Belize’s Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said that Belize needs to decentralize cruise tourism in an effort to reduce overcrowding and improve the visitor experience. Prime Minister Barrow also expressed confidence in Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to responsible development that will have a positive economic impact while maintaining the integrity of natural resources.

The new destination is expected to benefit Belize directly with significantly increased head tax revenues, and at a local level with up to 1,000 new jobs. The creation of the new destination will also help relieve cruise tourism pressures in Belize City which has been called for in Belize’s National Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.

Norwegian plans to employ a majority of Belizeans in the construction and operation of the destination in Belize. The company has also created a hiring program specifically for

Belizeans who want to work in the immediate future on its vessels while the project is under development. Once the destination is ready to open, those Belizeans will have priority preference for the numerous staff positions needed to run the day-to-day operations.

To learn more about the project, visit the Belize tab on the company’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/norwegiancruiseline.

NCL now offers Certified Angus Beef Steaks

 Norwegian, Steak in Cagney’s and Le Bistro restaurants Photo courtesy of NCL
Norwegian, Steak in Cagney’s and Le Bistro restaurants
Photo courtesy of NCL

Norwegian Cruise Line announced it is now the only cruise line to serve Certified Angus Beef brand steaks, the world’s leading Angus brand and consumers’ top choice for premium beef. Certified Angus Beef brand steaks are rated above USDA Prime, Choice and Select, and are known for their superior flavor, juiciness and tenderness. These steaks are currently available in Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro French restaurant on ten Norwegian ships, including the new Norwegian Breakaway. Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit will begin serving these steaks by August.

“With the addition of Certified Angus Beef in our steakhouse and French restaurant, we’ve taken an already great meal and made it outstanding,” said Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line. “There is no better steak available and, as a New Yorker who knows a good steak, it was an obvious choice to bring these high quality selections to Cagney’s Steakhouse and Le Bistro.”

Previously available only at shore-side steakhouses and leading retailers, these exceptional cuts feature 10 quality specifications, including marbling, maturity and consistency, and are aged 28 days for the finest flavor and tenderness.

Guests can choose from a wide variety of premium cuts, ranging from a 14-ounce dry-aged center-cut strip loin to an 18-ounce bone-in ribeye. Additional offerings include an eight-ounce center-cut filet and a 16-ounce boneless ribeye. Guests can also customize their Certified Angus Beef steak with an array of seasonings and signature sauces including garlic butter, gorgonzola-crusted, chimichurri, green peppercorn and more. Cagney’s Steakhouse serves all of the selected cuts, while Le Bistro offers the eight-ounce center-cut filet.

“Norwegian Cruise Line is at the forefront of cuisine at sea, and the ranchers and farmers behind the Certified Angus Beef brand are pleased to be a part of this culinary evolution,” says John Stika, the beef brand’s president. “Guests will appreciate knowing their steak experience matches some of the finest steakhouses in New York and beyond.”

The steaks were first introduced on the Norwegian Breakaway.

To book a cruise on board any of Norwegian Cruise Line’s ships, contact a travel professional, call Norwegian at 888-NCL-CRUISE (625-2784) or visit www.ncl.com.

NCL looking to Breakaway with two new ships

A rendering of The Haven courtyard on the Norwegian Breakaway, with private pool, sun deck, hot tub and fitness area.

By Jackie Roseboom

On Sept. 21, the first piece of steel was cut at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany for the construction of Norwegian Breakaway, the first of two new ships for Norwegian Cruise Line. The Breakaway is set for delivery in April 2013.

“Today’s steel cutting marks the start of construction for Norwegian Breakaway, our next generation Freestyle Cruising ship, that will captivate and amaze our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s chief executive officer. “We are extremely pleased with the progress we have made so far in planning this incredible vessel. We now look to the capable and talented team at Meyer Werft to bring this ship to life.”

The Breakaway class ships, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Getaway, will each be 144,017 gross tons and will carry approximately 4,000 passengers. These mega ships represent an opportunity for the Norwegian guest to “break away” from the routine of work, school, and daily stress, and find a true bliss at sea. While massive, they have many intimate spots to make your own. The new ships will take the best of the best from Norwegian’s existing ships. The ships’ names were chosen from 230,000 entries received in “Norwegian’s Cruising for Names” contest held in conjunction with USA Today.

To date, the company has revealed details on all of the ships’ staterooms which combine the form and function of the line’s Jewel class ships’ staterooms with the modern and contemporary design touches of Norwegian Epic. A wonderful selection of staterooms will be available starting with the innovative Studios, designed and priced for solo travelers, the re-introduction of Oceanview staterooms, Balcony and Mini-Suites, along with Spa Balcony, Mini-Suites and Suites in close proximity to the spa. The ship also features The Haven by Norwegian, which consist of 42 suites at the top of the ship and 18 additional suites located throughout the ship. The Haven includes plush amenities that include: 24-hour butler service, poolside valet, special platinum-colored keycards, white tablecloth in-suite dining, exclusive access to The Haven courtyard with private pool, sun deck, hot tub and fitness area, and priority reservations.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a 44-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. Most notable was the introduction of Freestyle Cruising, which has revolutionized cruising by allowing guests more freedom and flexibility to make their vacation their own.

Norwegian made a splash with its Norwegian Epic in 2010 as it collaborated with Blue Man Group, Howl at the Moon, Gibson Guitar, Nickelodeon and Cirque Dreams. The announcement of the two new ships have cruise fans excited to hear what innovations they will add this time.

In addition to the new Breakaway class ships, Norwegian Cruise Line is committed to keeping their existing fleet up to date. Both Norwegian Dawn and Norwegian Sun received major enhancements earlier this year. Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Jade are finishing up their dry dock enhancements soon.  

For more information go to ncl.com.

Jade’s varied culinary mix a hit with passengers

Norwegian Jade will be plying Mediterranean waters through December before embarking on a series of Canary Island voyages roundtrip from Barcelona. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

VENICE, ITALY, August 6, 2011 — World class dining venues abound on Norwegian Jade.

That might seem surprising to some — great dining is traditionally the domain of the luxury cruise sector and not necessarily what one expects to find on a 2,402-passenger mass market vessel.

Jade, however, delivers. There are some 14 dining options and passengers would be hard-pressed to find comparable décor, quality and service at even their favorite land-based locales.

From U.S. steak and seafood (Cagney’s), plus Tex-Mex (Paniolo Tapas & Salsa), to French (Le Bistro) and Italian (Papa’s Kitchen) offerings, the ship is alive at dinner hour. Most notably, Jasmine Garden is the culinary hub. The Asian restaurant complex, located on Deck 7 mid-ship, features made-to-order sushi and sashimi, a Sake Bar and a Teppanyaki grill and is clearly a runaway favorite with passengers.

Look for Cagney’s, a classical steakhouse from the 1930s and the ship’s signature restaurant, to serve a 32-ounce porterhouse for two; at Paniolo their zesty signature dish — lobster tacos — is a must; and both Le Bistro and Papa’s offer classical French and Italian fare respectively.

And, while all of the aforementioned specialty restaurants require nominal fees ranging from $10-25 per person, Jade still packs a punch with quality food and choice in its no additional charge main dining rooms – Grand Pacific and Alizar — plus Garden Café where enticing buffet spreads are offered including specialty dishes from ports which the ship has just visited. Following a port call this week to Izmir, Turkey for instance, the culinary team featured Turkish bread with chicken plus assorted kebabs.

A Norwegian Jade chef prepares Turkish bread with chicken in the Garden Café. The ship’s buffet, one of 14 dining venues onboard, often features local culinary options from the very ports the ship has visited. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Dining options are a big factor today within the cruise industry as more ships than ever before offer alternative onboard venues for their passengers to enjoy. At Norwegian Cruise Line, however, it’s the very premise of their “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept where one is offered a host of outstanding dining choices, relaxed dress codes, and the freedom to dine with whom they want, when they want at a locale that’s right for them on the evening of their choosing. As such, all restaurants aboard Jade feature open seating and flexible, extended dining hours.

Norwegian Jade began her seafaring career in 2006 as Pride of Hawaii. She’s now year-round in the Mediterranean but the Hawaiian motif and bright island colors remain front and center throughout the ship giving it added vibrancy, as is the case here in the Aloha Bar located in the Atrium on Deck 7. ~ Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Specialty restaurant reservations can be made in respective locales just minutes before dining although, to avoid disappointment, advance reservations are recommended.

Still hungry? Jade offers 24-hour room service. The new and expanded menu includes soup, salads, pizza, assorted sandwiches and desserts. There’s also a kid’s menu plus a special occasion menu that includes a jumbo shrimp platter, a collection of international cheeses and Caspian sea Sevruga caviar.

Norwegian Jade epitomizes “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept

The 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade, at anchor this week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, boasts 14 dining options, a host of bars/lounges and shipboard amenities worthy of its international passenger make-up. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

EN ROUTE TO SPLIT, CROATIA, August 4, 2011 – The “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept is playing out brilliantly aboard Norwegian Jade here in the Mediterranean this summer.

NCL pioneered the model over a decade ago — regimented onboard routines and set dining times would not be thrust on their passengers. It’s their vacation, after all.

Instead, passengers are enjoying a myriad of onboard entertainment and dining choices yet with no set schedules or even dress codes to adhere to. Add open seating dining and flexible restaurant hours to the mix and it’s a big hit with passengers.

Cagney’s Steakhouse is but one of 14 dining options aboard Norwegian Jade. Some specialty restaurants, like Cagney’s, offer a nominal surcharge. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

Feel like sushi tonight? Perhaps a thick steak? Maybe a lite snack from the salad bar? Jade offers no fewer than 14 dining options spread throughout the ship. Some are part of your cruise fare others, however, feature a nominal fee between $15-25 per person but well worth it among Japanese, French, Italian or U.S. steakhouse/seafood fare.

Whether paying additional surcharges, or not, the culinary options are among the most varied at sea. We’ll take a closer look at the choices later this week.

Meanwhile, as passengers settled into their 7-night, roundtrip Venice voyage (port calls have included Dubrovnik, Croatia; Athens, Greece and Izmir, Turkey) what they found was a 2,402-passenger ship which never sleeps.
The multi-national passenger mix here onboard can wake to fitness center activities and aerobics, two golf driving nets, shuffleboard, oversized chess, volleyball/basketball court and paddle tennis.

Norwegian Jade’s spacious pool deck. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

The pool deck features two swimming pools (one, adults-only), a water slide and four hot tubs. Jade also features a full-service spa and salon, a 7,000-square foot boutique, art gallery, Internet center, library, casino and for evening entertainment, a three-deck theater plays host to a variety of performances.

Jade offers a supervised facility for children featuring a play gym, movie theatre with kid’s movies, computer center, and an arts and crafts area. There’s also a club for teens and a video arcade.
In keeping with the “Freestyle Cruising’’ concept, Jade stateroom accommodations run the gamut. There’s even a suite complex at the top of the ship complete with two luxurious 5,000 square-foot garden villas, a deluxe owner’s suite, three owner’s suites and 10 courtyard villas, eight of which have a separate children’s bedroom.

It’s all about choices aboard Norwegian Jade . . . lots of them.

Follow us this week in the Mediterranean aboard Norwegian Jade

Norwegian Cruise Line’s 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade (formerly Pride of Hawaii) embarked on a 7-night roundtrip Mediterranean journey from Venice, Italy, this past weekend. One of 11 ships in the NCL fleet, this European-based vessel will be unveiling a series of 9-day cruises from Barcelona to the Canary Islands beginning in December. Cruise News Weekly Editor Michael Coleman is onboard and will be posting dispatches from the ship in this space over the next week. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

NCL to offer pizza delivery 24/7

Passengers aboard any one of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 11 ships will soon be able to order pizza 24/7.

By Michael Coleman

You’ll have to book a cruise to enjoy it but Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week it will now offer pizza delivery service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, fleet-wide.

Presently offered only aboard the line’s newest ship, Norwegian Epic, “Pizza 24/7’’ is scheduled to roll out to the eight ships departing from U.S. ports throughout July and then in Europe to Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Sun in August.

“Our guests have deemed the 24-hour pizza delivery onboard Norwegian Epic a popular addition to our innovative freestyle dining options,” said Michael Flesch, Norwegian’s senior vice president of hotel operations.

“We wanted to make it easy and convenient for our guests to enjoy a delicious pizza any time on our ships, whether it’s during a game of bowling, watching a movie in the Atrium or in the comfort of their stateroom.”

The tasty, 16-inch handmade, stone-baked pizzas are $5 each and are available with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce; pepperoni; or vegetarian with roasted peppers, mushrooms, red onions and mozzarella cheese.

NCL has also just rolled out Epic’s room service menu across the fleet with popular breakfast items, assorted soups, salads, sandwiches, desserts, and kid’s menu items. Room service is complimentary throughout the day except from midnight to 5 a.m. when an overnight surcharge of $3.95 is charged per order. Guests who order only beverages or pizza delivery will not be assessed the fee.

Epic debuted in June 2010. The Company has two 4,000-passenger vessels on order for delivery in spring 2013 and spring 2014.

NCL is the official cruise line of Blue Man Group, appearing for the first time at sea on Epic, as well as the official cruise line of Legends in Concert, Howl at the Moon Dueling Pianos, Gibson Guitar, and Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids. Cirque Dreams & Dinner is also featured aboard Epic as the first show of its kind at sea under a big top.

On the web: www.ncl.com

Cruise lines celebrating the royal wedding at sea

Royal Caribbean is offering royal wedding packages so you can feel like a prince or princess. Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean International

By Jackie Roseboom

Many businesses are celebrating the Royal Wedding by offering their guests a viewing party and special offerings, and the cruise industry is no exception. From small viewing areas to lavish parties, it will all be available at sea.

Royal Caribbean International
Royal Caribbean is celebrating the upcoming British royal wedding by offering an exclusive Royal Caribbean wedding package for couples looking to tie the knot at sea.

“Royal Caribbean’s full fleet of ships around the world will broadcast the royal wedding live so that guests may join in the ceremony’s excitement,” said Betsy O’Rourke, senior vice president of marketing. “Inspired by the pending royal nuptials, the Royal Wedding package and honeymoon registry offers guests the royal treatment on their special day and honeymoon cruise.”

The Royal wedding packages include an onboard symbolic wedding ceremony (due to the varying international legal restrictions). Royal Romance Wedding Coordinators will handle every detail so the couples’ special day is a truly regal experience including any legal requirements pre-departure.

Cunard

Cunard’s Royal Court Theatre is very fitting for watching Prince William marry Kate. Photo courtesy of Cunard
Guests onboard Cunard’s three ships — Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth need have no fear of missing one second of the historic union of the future King and Kate Middleton.

Queen Mary 2’s Royal Court Theatre seats over 1,000 guests, who will be able to watch events unfold in plush cinema comfort as the ship sails between New York and Southampton, on a seven-night Transatlantic Crossing (April 26 to May 2).
The Royal Court Theatres on the smaller Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria seat more than 800 passengers, and they too will be used to screen the Royal nuptials live. At the time Queen Elizabeth will be at sea heading for Southampton, and Queen Victoria will be at sea in the Mediterranean.

The day will also be one of celebration on all three Cunard ships, with that evening’s dinner featuring a commemorative menu and a champagne toast.

MSC
With the exception of MSC Sinfonia and Opera, which will not be sailing in European waters, the Royal Wedding will be broadcast in English across the MSC fleet. Bars on board will be serving a great selection of champagnes and prosecco together with a special commemorative Royal Cocktail (sparkling wine, cognac and grand marnier). Guests will be able to raise a glass – or two – to the happy couple.

NCL
The highly-anticipated event will be broadcast across Norwegian’s fleet of ships, with the exception of Norwegian Sky in the Bahamas. Guests will be able to watch the magic of the royal wedding on two-story big screens on Norwegian Pearl, Jewel, Jade, Gem and Epic, as well as in any of the line’s bars and lounges.
After the royal couple say their “I do’s,” guests can raise a toast to the newlyweds with champagne, gin and tonic or a pitcher of Pimm’s and attend street parties held in true British style, complete with music playing tribute to the Beatles. Special dining events will be held throughout the sailing including the Prince and Princess Brunch and an afternoon Royal High Tea.

Princess Cruise Line
Princess ships will be airing the Royal Wedding on the Movies Under the Stars giant screens. Passengers will be able to follow along with full coverage of the pomp and majesty of the historic wedding through BBC World’s broadcast of the event. The onboard viewing parties will add a celebratory flair to the event with British-style refreshments and special royal-themed cocktails. Passengers can also test their knowledge with royal wedding trivia competitions and participate in a William and Kate look-alike contest.

Princess Cruise Line’s first Royal Princess cruise ship debuted in 1984 and was christened by HRH Princess Diana. The ship left the fleet in 2005, the name was passed to one of Princess’ small ships in 2007. This vessel is being transferred to a sister company at the end of April. The new Royal Princess cruise ship will be debuting in spring of 2013. We’ll be waiting in anticipation to see if Princess Kate will also christen the Royal Princess, as the beloved Princess Diana did.

Note: Be sure to follow your Cruise News Weekly columnists as we report live from Carnival’s newest ship, Carnival Magic, from May 1 to 10 in Europe. We’ll be reporting from our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

YouTube launches new travel channel with Norwegian Cruise Line

By Jackie Roseboom

Norwegian Cruise Line and YouTube have just launched the first-ever YouTube Vacationer. It’s a travel-specific channel within YouTube designed to provide inspiring ideas and advice from well-traveled, nationally known experts.

You can interact within the “Vacation You” section: a selection of short clips created by vacation professionals are available that run a few minutes each. You can share a personalized “Vacation You” video with your friends and family through Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.

“By working with YouTube on their first-ever travel-specific channel, we are giving visitors the opportunity to experience our brand and all the options that Freestyle Cruising offers,” said Maria Miller, Norwegian Cruise Line’s senior vice president of marketing. “From a marketing perspective, this opportunity is compelling because it provides a truly organic user experience and represents another great way for brands to work with YouTube.”

The expert’s videos are categorized into sections. You’ll find videos from from Lonely Planet, National Geographic, Travel Channel, eHow, concierge.com, Howcast, DanTraveling and the Next New Network. Each section — Caribbean/Bahamas, Europe, Exotics, U.S. and Canada — have video clips on many different topics. You can click on guided clips through interesting places like Cuba by Andrew Zimmern or Dublin by Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel. Tips on how to pack for certain locations, how to get a passport, and “How to Not Look Like a Tourist” are clips from various travel pros. There are clips of the Northern Lights and interesting sea creatures, both of which you can visit during some cruise shore excursions.

Some clips my be considered a little silly but they have great information and are still worth watching. The Norwegian Cruise Line section features clips of the different fun activities you can enjoy while onboard the ships and some behind the scenes clips.

You don’t have to have a YouTube account to view the videos, but if you are a member, you can subscribe to the channel and get updates when new videos are added. Both signing up for a YouTube account and subscribing to a channel are free.

“We are pleased to be working with Norwegian Cruise Line, the innovators in cruise travel, on our first branded travel channel,” said Mark Day, sales development at YouTube. “The YouTube Vacationer channel brings the best of our partners’ travel videos into a single destination to help users explore, plan and dream about their next vacations, and it gives users a way to see themselves in a customized vacation video with Norwegian’s ‘Vacation You’ application.”

Other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean and Disney also have official videos on YouTube.
Visit the YouTube Vacationer at youtube.com/vacationer.

Contributor Jackie Roseboom also writes for “Orlando Attractions Magazine” and the Cruise Guide newspaper column.

Ship Review: NCL’s newest ship offers fun in Epic proportions

Many people pick a vacation city based on how much it has to offer. Big names like Nickelodeon and Blue Man Group that could have only been seen in places like Las Vegas and Orlando are now cruising the high seas. With all the innovations on the brand new Norwegian (NCL) Epic, it’s like you’re in a city with ever changing views.

Click Here to continue reading the NCL Epic ship review.