NCL CORP. placed a multi-megaship order from Aker Yards last week, signing a $2.8 billion contract for two 150,000-ton, 4,200-passenger cruise ships, with an option for a third, to be delivered between 2009 and 2010. Including crew, the F3 ships will carry up to 6,400 people and will be 1,066 feet long, approximately the height of the Eiffel Tower. NCL said that 100% of the F3 ships' 1,470 outer staterooms and suites would have balconies.
Crystal Cruises will spend $23 million to enhance the Crystal Symphony in what will be the cruise line's largest and most expensive dry-dock ever. During two-week refurbishment, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12, nearly 1,300 people will work around the clock on more than 150 projects to create what Crystal said will "essentially be a new ship, especially to those familiar with it." The Symphony's upgrade will include renovating all its staterooms, continuing on the ship's 2004 dry-dock, when all its penthouses were refurbished; redoing much of the Tiffany Deck, the ship's main entertainment area; creating a new casino and new nightclub; and redesigning its boutiques and shops.
Alaskan Voters approved Ballot Measure 2, the cruise ship tax initiative, which will place a $50 head tax on cruise passengers in Alaska and subject the cruise lines to a list of new taxes and regulations. Wording in the initiative indicates that the new rules will take effect within 90 days of the vote's certification, after the 2006 Alaska cruise season has ended, but parts of the initiative are likely to be battled in court. Financial analysts weren't fazed by the vote and estimated that in the long term the measure would only slightly impact earnings per share and would not weigh on demand.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE was the first cruise lines to implement cellular phone service technology fleetwide, the line said. Passengers aboard NCL ships will be able to use their own mobile telephones no matter where the ship is, using a service provided by Wireless Maritime Services, a joint venture of Cingular Wireless and Maritime Telecommunications Network. NCL began offering cell phone service on select ships two years ago. Colin Veitch, NCL's CEO, said in a statement that "while we recognize that some guests traveling with us choose to disconnect, others need to stay connected to loved ones or business associates in order to get away."