It sounds more like a fighter plane than a cruise ship, but Norwegian Cruise Line's in-the-works F3 is slated to take the cruise industry by storm. In a radical move, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) CEO Colin Veitch told Travel Trade magazine, "We have thrown away the rule book of ship design and started with staterooms."
While most of the design elements are still tightly under wraps, industry buzz is centered on the shape of the entry-level staterooms. In addition, talk focuses on what's missing in the F3 as much as what has changed.
Anyone who's ever sailed on a cruise ship knows to expect a large box as you walk through the door. This obstruction houses your cabin's bathroom and, while certainly necessary, it protrudes into the living area taking up a lot of floor space.
In a new cabin design called the "Wave," NCL has split the bathroom. Wave cabins will have a shower cubicle on one side and a toilet cubicle on the other. An open vanity with sink and wash area has been repositioned in the living space. The result of this one simple change is a stateroom that feels more open and roomy.
"Feels" is the operative word.
The most noticeable design upgrade in the staterooms is the curved walls. Again, while not actually gaining very much actual square footage, the illusion is that you have a more spacious living area. This new, modern décor is more sophisticated moving away from the vibrant, sometimes outlandish designs of earlier ships in the NCL fleet.
An earth-tone palette offset with deep shades of blues, reds and oranges lends a more elegant flair to even the most basic of cabins.
What about popular accommodations such as the Garden Villas and Courtyard Villas? Company executives assure guests that they will not be disappointed at the makeover that's been planned for these cabins.
In the spirit of an entire makeover of the cruise experience, Norwegian's F3 ships will offer some exclusive and highly informal nightlife options for guests starting with a "nightclub" that is not just for nights.
POSH Beach Club aims to start your day with morning cocktails, yoga classes and wake-up music that sets the mood. Afternoons will unveil private cabanas, exhilarating music, spiked snow cones and plenty of time for sunning. As night falls, POSH will transform into an exclusive nightclub with dancing and bottle service. In addition, Halo, an indoor version of the POSH Beach Club, will serve as the private nightclub for those booking the Garden and Courtyard Villas.
Bringing an innovation from Scandinavia, each F3 ship will have its own "ice bar." Complete with fur coats and mittens for passengers and plenty of vodka, NCLs ice bar will – like others around the world – be totally frozen. With a temperature of 17 degrees Fahrenheit, turnover will be high. Most guests will come for a drink or two then move on to other party avenues aboard ship.
For those looking for a middle ground between uber-exclusive and frozen solid, there's Spice H20. Another "transforming" environment, Spice will revolve through three phases each day: Sunny Spice, Aqua Spice and All Spice. Guests will enjoy a range of music, activity and food choices throughout the day and night.
Two F3 ships are underway, but they will not see the open ocean until 2010. At 150,000 tons, each ship will hold 4,200 passengers. Eighty percent of staterooms will follow the new Wave design and 100% of all outside cabins will offer balconies.
With many industry firsts coming from NCL, now is an excellent time to cruise. If you're a die-hard cruise fan, mark your calendars so you can pre-book your tour on the new F3s. If you're new to cruising, check out other innovative ships in the current NCL fleet and find the time of your life.