Norwegian Cruise Line has announced fleet-wide upgrades following a $1bn cash injection from private equity group Apollo Management.

 

Improvements will be made to dining, cabins and activities by summer 2008 and were announced at the christening of Norwegian Gem in New York City at the end of last year.


An extra $50million will be spent on food in the next two years, which equates to an increase of 20% per passenger per day. Most of this will be spent on refitting the ships with ‘Action Station’ restaurants, replacing traditional buffets with multiple points of service that aim to dispense with trays and queues.


Guests will be greeted with champagne on arrival whatever their cabin grade, there will signature dishes at each restaurant and more lobster on the menus. Rooms service will be available from all restaurant menus and reservation technology will be improved.


Among planned enhancements to the cabins, amenities, mattresses and towels will be upgraded; balcony cabins and mini-suites will get a 24-hour telephone concierge service and priority embarkation; while suites and villas are to have concierge and butler service, in-room welcome champagne, a private breakfast and lunch area and outdoor butlers in the courtyard villas.


NCL Corporation president and CEO Colin Veitch said Freestyle 2.0 had largely been driven by agent feedback.

 

“We don’t want to rest on our laurels – we have achieved the milestone of offering the youngest fleet in the cruise industry and will now focus our attention on delivery the next generation of Freestyle Cruising – Freestyle 2.0 – a significant enhancement to the guest experience fleet-wide.”


Many Freestyle 2.0 features are in place in Norwegian Gem, which sailed its US inaugural this week. Soft refits will be rolled out across the rest of the fleet this summer and the Action Station restaurants will be fitted as each ship goes into dry dock.


Apollo Management becomes a 50% owner of NCL under the terms of the agreement, announced in August. Veitch said the $1bn will also be used to reduce debt and be put against the F3 ships on order for 2010.