Norwegian Cruise Line has named its new F3 ship Norwegian Epic and announced plans to bring the ship to the UK for an inaugural trade launch.
The next-generation Freestyle Cruising ship will start year-round seven-night sailings out of Miami to the Caribbean in summer 2010, and will go on sale to NCL's key travel partners in mid-March this year.
NCL had planned to build two F3 ships but cancelled the building of a second ship after a dispute with ship builders STX Europe in December. At one stage last autumn both ship builds were put on hold, admitted UK general manager Stephen Park.
Park said: "The F3 ship is the biggest ship NCL has ever built and is a very exciting new build. There was a time when neither of the ships was going to be built."
The 4,200 passenger ship is likely to dock in the UK next spring to allow travel agents and partners to see the new ship, which boasts five new nightlife concepts including the first ice-bar at sea, curved cabins, and the highest proportion of outside cabins on a cruise ship.
"The intention will be to have the ship here for a couple of days and we will be trying to get as many agents and travel partners on the ship as possible. When we did this with Norwegian Gem in Dover in 2007 it was a great event and because this is such a different ship it's easier to sell it once you have experienced the product," added Park.
Park said the cruiseline expected to attract a higher proportion of Brits on board than its other ships because of the itineraries, which offer the possibility of two seven-night back to back cruises around the eastern and western Caribbean. "This works well for the UK market and we are anticipating more Brits on these particular itineraries," he said.
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