New giant sets sail on maiden voyage

By ,   October 26, 2015 ,   Cruise Industry

It was a great day for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) fans on Sunday as the line's largest ship ever set sail with paying guests for the first time.

With 16 passenger decks and room for over 5,000 travelers, the 164,600-ton Norwegian Escape is the 5th biggest cruise ship ever built, dwarfing all but a handful of Royal Caribbean International (RCI) ships.

Constructed over the past 17 months at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany, Escape departed nearby Hamburg on a two-night voyage to Southampton, England. From Southampton, it'll head across the Atlantic to Miami, where it will sail year-round to the Caribbean after a christening in the city to be headlined by American rapper Pitbull.

An expanded version of Norwegian's recently unveiled Norwegian Getaway, Escape boasts one of the largest deck-top fun zones at sea with four major water slides; a restaurant-lined boardwalk; and a giant spa with a flurries-filled snow room. The vessel also offers Norwegian's first dedicated nursery for young cruisers two and under; the first Margaritaville at sea; the largest ropes course at sea; a miniature golf course; a full-size basketball court; and a bocce ball court -- another first for the line.

New Norwegian cruise ship is the latest with a super-chilled "snow room" that is the first of its kind on a mass-market cruise ship catering to North Americans.

Escape also features a larger version of the line's signature "ship-within-a-ship" luxury suite enclave, The Haven, with its own private pool, sun deck, restaurant and bar.

With the addition of Escape, Norwegian now has 14 vessels.