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Norwegian Breakaway rocks New York City

Norwegian Breakaway, by Bob Hoelscher

May 8 was a big day for Norwegian Cruise Lines as its new Norwegian Breakaway was christened and introduced to the travel trade and media in New York. This, the latest industry megaliner, measures 1,062 feet long, 130 feet wide and weighs 144,017 tons. It accommodates some 4,000 guests. The operative word is “big,” as the vessel seems more like an upscale Las Vegas resort than a traditional ocean liner. Eighteen decks, 14 of them for passenger use, contain 27 different dining options, 18 bars and lounges, and a huge array of recreational and entertainment facilities to keep guests occupied virtually around the clock.

Norwegian Breakaway has been beautifully appointed in very tasteful modern decor that is easy on the eyes and never over the top, except perhaps for the Peter Max artwork that adorns the exterior of the bow. Staterooms are quite spacious and well designed, and despite the large passenger capacity, the ship’s public areas appear capable of easily accommodating everyone in comfort with much room to spare.

Twelve members of the famed Radio City Rockettes served as the ship’s “Godmothers” in an unusual, extended ceremony that took place on the ship and was televised on giant screens in venues throughout the vessel. Conducted primarily in the 800-seat Breakaway Theatre by Kevin Sheehan, NCL’s president and CEO, the festivities also featured New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the premier of Bermuda, the prime minister of the Bahamas, and a variety of shipboard entertainers and New York food celebrities. The vessel’s intended close affiliation with the “Big Apple” was showcased throughout, as Norwegian Breakaway will be the largest liner to be homeported there year-round. Sailings will begin with weekly summertime trips to Bermuda and will switch to departures for the Bahamas and Florida in the fall, with occasional Caribbean cruises during the winter months.

• Cruise Line Briefs •
For the first time in four years, Princess Cruises will offer summertime Caribbean cruising from Florida in 2014 as Caribbean Princess will sail on voyages ranging from a three-day getaway to weeklong tropical cruises. Carnival Cruise Lines has announced that it will spend more than $300 million to significantly enhance emergency power capabilities, introduce new fire safety technology and improve the level of operating redundancies across its entire 24-ship fleet. Effective with the first cruises in 2014, Crystal Cruises will eliminate smoking in all indoor areas, except for its Connoisseur Club smoking lounge. Outside smoking will be allowed in a limited number of designated spaces.

On May 3, the Port of Baltimore welcomed Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI’s)  Grandeur of the Seas, fresh from a $48 million bow-to-stern  revitalization, to Maryland, where she replaces Enchantment of the Seas and will offer cruises year-round to Bermuda, the Caribbean, Canada and New England. RCI will also be basing the 3,114-guest Navigator of the Seas year-round in Galveston, Texas. The company’s new Quantum class of ships, currently in the planning stage, will reportedly offer skydiving, bumper cars and roller skating.

Holland America Line has selected two leading design firms to create the interior spaces of the line’s new 99,000-ton ship that is slated for delivery in February 2016. And Celebrity Cruises has completed its $140 million “Solsticizing” initiative, with Celebrity Constellation being its final vessel to add the full complement of new features.

Avalon Waterways is increasing its “special interest” cruises by 30 percent in 2014, adding beer-tasting, golf, wellness and World War I history cruises to its existing lineup. Next year, Avalon will also offer cruisers more suites than staterooms on Europe’s waterways, with a total of eight “Suite Ships,” each featuring two full decks of 200- and 300-square-foot Panorama and Royal Suites.

In similar news, Tauck’s two new riverboats that it will launch in Europe next year will each offer 22 300-square-foot suites, totaling 57 percent more than on the company’s existing vessels.