As part of a hugely comprehensive redeployment that will include a welcome return to Asia after a hiatus of more than a decade, Norwegian Cruise Line has decided to return its pioneering mega ship, Norwegian Epic, to cruising from Florida for the winter 2016-17 season.
Prior to this, it had been determined that the 154,000 ton Epic would be based in Europe year round, cruising to the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands, mainly from Barcelona, on a series of itineraries ranging from six to twelve nights’ duration.
Instead, the ship will now return to Florida, to be replaced once again by former year round Europe favourite, Norwegian Spirit.
Built in 2010, the Norwegian Epic will be home ported at Port Canaveral for the first time when she returns to Florida in the autumn of 2016. From there, she will operate a series of mainly seven night sailings to the highlights of the eastern and western Caribbean.
The seven night eastern Caribbean voyages will offer calls at Tortola, St. Thomas, and the company’s ‘private island’ of Great Stirrup Cay. Western Caribbean itineraries will feature calls at Ocho Rios, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, and Great Stirrup Cay.
In addition, the Norwegian Epic will offer a short season of three and four night cruises to the Bahamas during January and March of 2017, with calls at Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay.
This redeployment of the Epic brings down the curtain on her European role after only one full season- the one she is currently sailing- in that role.
On the other hand, she will be a far more formidable competitor to the upgraded Royal Caribbean hardware sailing out of Port Canaveral. And many will also welcome the return to year round European sailings of the raffish, exotic Norwegian Spirit. In many respects, that latter ship is the most under rated in the entire Norwegian fleet. During her time in Europe, she attracted a loyal fan base that tended to sail on her year in, year out.
Interesting times. As ever, stay tuned for updates.