In the latest sign that Europe has come of age as a year-round cruise destination, Norwegian Cruise Line today announced it would permanently deploy its largest ship to the region.
Speaking aboard the soon-to-debut Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan revealed that the 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic would move to Barcelona year-round in April 2015.
"Consumers in Europe love the ship," Sheehan told reporters during a preview sailing of the Getaway out of Rotterdam for European travel agents.
Norwegian Epic already spends its summers in Europe sailing the Mediterranean out of Barcelona, drawing both Americans and Europeans. It spends winters in the Caribbean sailing out of Miami.
Norwegian Epic will become the largest cruise vessel ever based year-round in Europe.
Sheehan didn't reveal the itineraries the Norwegian Epic will operate in Europe or whether it would be replacing one of the two smaller Norwegian ships now based year-round in Europe, the Norwegian Spirit and Norwegian Jade.
A spokesperson for the line says itineraries will be announced in mid-March.
Norwegian's announcement comes in the midst of a significant expansion at the line that includes the addition of the 4,028-passenger Norwegian Getaway, which will sail year-round out of Miami starting in February. Norwegian also has ordered two more large vessels for delivery in 2015 and 2017.
Unveiled in 2010, the 155,873-ton Norwegian Epic is the world's third largest cruise ship, behind Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas.
By Gene Sloan, USA Today
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