This ship is probably the most talked about cruiseliner of the last years, getting even with Cunards Queen Mary 2 and Royal Caribbeans Oasis Of The Seas in terms of publicity, is my guess. Although Norwegian Epic floated out of her building dock on july the 11th 2009, her story begins much earlier. The order for two giant cruiseliners under the codename of F3 was placed by Norwegian Cruise Line with Aker Yards in Saint Nazaire in november 2006. Also, an option was taken on a thirth ship of this class. This option never materialized and because of a dispute between the wharf and NCL in september of 2008 about the price of the first F3 ship, the second order was also cancelled. So the class was reduced to just one ship. The problem about the price came into light when Apollo Management, who had taken over 50% of NCL from Star Cruises in august 2007, made some alterations to the design of the ship and this made the first F3 more expensive to built.
The F3, meaning the thirth generation of Freestyle cruiseships within the fleet of NCL, was to be a gigantic vessel. Her tonnage would be around 153.000 and this makes her larger then Queen Mary 2. In fact, at the time the ship started her first sailings, she is the fifth largest cruiseship in the world, only to be surpassed by the 220.000-ton Oasis Of The Seas of Royal Caribbean International and the three ship Freedom-class, also of Royal Caribbean. These ships, Freedom Of The Seas, Liberty Of The Seas and Independence Of The Seas are a tiny bit larger then the F3 measuring just over 154.400 ton. The F3 can accomodate some 4100 passengers and 1708 crewmembers on 19 decks. Her lenght is 329,49 meters, her beam is 40,54 meters and her draft 8,70 meters. Her normal speed will be around 22 knots and the ship is registered at Nassau and flies the Bahamian flag.
During the building of the ship, in may and june, there were three fires reported, very possibly arson because it is very unlikely that these fires started by coinsidence. Lucklily, these fires, although of course a setback, did not affect her intended delivery date. As said, the ship floated out in july 2009 after she was being built with yardnumber C33. But now she had a name, Norwegian Epic. Although she floated out work was far from over on this new ocean giant. Her first set of seatrials took place on four days starting on february 10, 2010. Her second set of seatrials started on the 11th of june 2010 and she was finally delivered to NCL at the 17th of june. The next day, Norwegian Epic left Saint Nazaire for Rotterdam, where she arrived in the morning of the 19th. All pictures on this page are taken on this morning.
It was a great sight, seeing the ship entering port, while a small fleet of ships accompanied her to her berth and the spraying water from the two harbour tugs created a longlasting and very bright rainbow. I was rather surprised about the looks of the ship, that I assumed I would find ugly. Still not the most beautifull ship created in recent years, she did not dissapoint me at all. Her proportions, the 'courtyard-crown' and the strange placing of the lifeboats weren't really that bad as I had expected. In fact, Norwegian Epic looked quite intersting and certainly impressive. In todays cruising world she will be a unique ship, because she will have no sisters and she is of a totally new design what makes her more interesting then all clones of the Carnival Spirit/ Vista class, Grand class family or Destiny-modifications.
Her playfull, fantasy hull-art also makes the otherwise totally white ship more appealing, of course this is a feature all NCL-ships have at this moment, giving them all a unique trademark, and making even the sisterships of the Norwegian Star-class recognizable. Everytime a new NCL ship is revealed, people are really curious about the hull-art and this is a nice 'extra' publicity for NCL.
Norwegian Epic left Rotterdam for a two-day cruise to Southampton, but suffered serious problems with her propellershaft during this voyage. Because of this, she limped into Southampton Water 7 hours later then originally planned. The ship was repaired and sailed as sceduled to New York from Southampton on the 24th of june. Her arrival in New York was at the 1st of july and to fit next to pier 88, the ship had to lower five of her lifeboats into the Hudson river. In fact, Norwegian Epic was the largest cruiseship ever to dock in New York. She was named at her pier in New York on july the 2nd to be named. Her godmother is Reba McEntire, a famous American countrysinger. The ceremony was followed by performances aboard from all onboard entertainers, including the Blue Man Group. After this naming-ceremony, Norwegian Epic set sail for a two-day cruise to nowhere. The ship arrived back at the 4th of july at New York for the Macy's firework display, a part of the celebrations of the American independence day. During this celebrations, artists like Justin Bieber, Enrique Iglesias and LeAnn Rimes performed aboard Norwegian Epic for a live NBC broadcast. After this, she sailed to Miami and took up station there for her maiden Caribbean season.
From the 2015-season onwards, Norwegian Epic will be re-located to Europe, and she will be based in Barcelona yearround. This mainly because the Caribbean will by then have their newest member of the NCL fleet homeported in Miami, the Norwegian Getaway.
All pictures were taken in Rotterdam, the first port of call ever for Norwegian Epic at the 19th of june 2010.