Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it will have a ship in Europe year-round for the first time in its 41-year history.

Norwegian Jade begins sailing Mediterranean itineraries out of Southampton from this summer and had been due to go back to sail in the US  for the winter.

The company has now decided that from November 2008 and April 2009 the ship will sail out of Barcelona on eastern Mediterranean, Canary Islands and Morocco cruises.

No details of further itineraries have been announced but NCL UK general manager Stephen Park said he hoped 2,400-passenger Norwegian Jade would return to the UK.

“We haven’t announced where the ship will be after April 2009. It will be decided in the next few weeks. My hope is that it is in the UK. We have seen great sales on the Jade this year from Southampton.”

Park also said this year round deployment continued to emphasis the strength of cruising in Europe.

He said: “Its a pretty significant sign for us and the whole cruise industry. Europe really is the centre for cruise.”

Norwegian Jade’s winter 2008-09 itineraries will go on sale from March 10 2008.