Norwegian To Add Hamburg And Southampton In 2017 – Other Cruise News: River Lifts And Elevators
by Kevin Griffin
Last week Norwegian Cruise Line was full of announcements for next year. First, it will base its Norwegian Jade in Hamburg starting in 2017, second it will return to Southampton next year in an effort to double its UK trade and third it will base its mammoth Norwegian Getaway in Copenhagen, offering an increase of 36,000 berths there on a seasonal basis. Meanwhile, we look at the recent addition of lifts and elevators to river cruisers in Europe.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Norwegian To Add Hamburg And Southampton In 2017
Last week Norwegian Cruise Line announced that it would be entering the fast-growing German market in 2017 with two ships, the Norwegian Jade, attracted to Hamburg by that port’s opening of its third cruise terminal, and the Norwegian Getaway, which will be based in Copenhagen but embarking German passengers at Warnemünde.
At the same time, in the UK market, Norwegian announced that Norwegian Jade would be offering cruises from Southampton, a return to the UK after a seven-year absence, with the first departure scheduled for May 12.
From Southampton, the Norwegian Jade will sail 4-night mini-cruises to Hamburg 7-night cruises to Hamburg, Amsterdam and Zeebrugge and 9-night Norwegian Fjord cruises.
The 2,466-berth ship is one of nine that will undergo a major refurbishment as part of a $400 million project called Norwegian Edge. Public areas, dining venues and staff training are all to be improved in an effort to bring the best elements of Norwegian Escape to the rest of the fleet.
Norwegian Cruise Line has scheduled nineteen Hamburg turnarounds for 2017, making it the first North American-based operator to execute a full season of turnarounds in the German port city.
The business was made possible by completion of Hamburg’s third cruise terminal, the Steinwerder Cruise Center, in 2015. The New Norwegian Escape sailed from Hamburg last October, after its delivery by Meyer Werft.
The German-based cruises will be offered with ‘premium all-inclusive’ pricing for the local market,
Meanwhile, the return to Southampton is the first stage in Norwegian’s plan to double the size of its UK market by 2020. This follows 20% growth in 2015 and will involve a full summer season.
Hamburg features on every itinerary, the day after Southampton. The shortest cruise will feature just those two ports while the 7-night itinerary takes in Le Havre and Amsterdam as well, while the 9-night voyage heads for the Norwegian Fjords.
These changes will increase the European-based Norwegian fleet from four ships to five. Europe accounts for 70% of Norwegian’s international business and the UK is the largest market within that.
Norwegian Getaway, meanwhile, will sail 9-night cruises from Copenhagen, taking in Warnemünde, Tallinn, St Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm.
The 4,180-berth ship has 70% more capacity than the Norwegian Star it will replace.
Copenhagen will be the starting point for eighteen cruises to the Baltic and the Norwegian Fjords, one more than Norwegian is offering this year.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
River Lifts And Elevators
Not that long ago, it was pretty well standard that European river cruise vessels did not have lifts, or elevators as the Americans call them. Today, there are several lines whose ships all have lifts.
Most lift installations on river cruisers operate between only two decks, the upper deck and the middle deck, while usually the lower deck is not served, nor is the sun deck. But the two-deck option at least allows passengers to move between lounge and restaurant and cabin areas with the least inconvenience. The installation of these lifts allows those that are not as mobile as others to get around more easily.
One of the new generation of lift-equipped operators is Tauck Tours, with its all-new all-inclusive ships. Even one of Tauck’s older ships, the Swiss Sapphire, had four decks, Sun, Diamond, Ruby and Emerald, with an elevator running between the Diamond Deck and the Dining room, including stops at the Lounge and the Ruby Deck.
Elsewhere, Viking River Cruises’ large new fleet of Viking Longships all have lifts incorporated into their building.
Several of AMA Waterways’ ships and five of the Uniworld river cruise fleet also incorporate elevators, although they do not have wheelchair accessible cabins.
And UK-based Riviera Travel has included lifts between the middle deck and upper deck on its new “Charles Dickens” class river cruisers.
But one line, Australia-based Scenic, has not only incorporated elevators into its four newbuildings, but has gone a step further by fitting them with wheelchair accessible cabins, something that others have not yet done.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)