Norwegian Bliss Becomes Largest Cruise Ship to Transit the Expanded Panama Canal

Photo: Norwegian Bliss transits the Expanded Panama Canal, May 14, 2018. Photo: Panama Canal Authority

Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Norwegian Bliss on Monday became the biggest cruise ship to transit the Expanded Panama Canal.

The 168,000 gross ton cruise ship has a total length of 325.9 m (1,069.2 ft), beam 41.4 m (135.8 ft) and draft of 8.3 m (27.2 ft).

Norwegian Bliss was delivered by German shipbuilder Meyer Werft in March and, last month, began a 15-day itinerary from Miami, Florida, through the Panama Canal and along the west coast of North and Central America to its final destination in the Port of Los Angeles, California. The vessel will this serve the Alaska region until the end of the cruise season, after which it will reposition itself in the Caribbean.


Photo: Panama Canal Authority

The Panama Canal expects to receive approximately 236 cruise ships through the Panamax and Neopanamax Locks during the 2017-2018 cruise season, which officially began in October.

In April 2017, Disney Cruise Line’s Disney Wonder became the first cruise ship to transit the Expanded Canal.

Norwegian Bliss third ship of the Breakaway Plus class of the Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) and has the passenger capacity of about 4,000.


Photo: Panama Canal Authority

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Norwegian Bliss Launches Month-Long Inaugural Celebrations


Norwegian Bliss in Ponta Delgada Azores. (Photo by Dave Jones)

Norwegian Bliss has begun her month-long inaugural celebration in the US.

Now on her way to Miami, the sixteenth and newest vessel in the Norwegian Cruise Line fleet arrived in New York City on Thursday, May 3. The ship will then call in Los Angeles and Seattle, where her christening will take place on May 30.

The two-day Norwegian Bliss inaugural preview in New York included brand partners, media, and industry representatives. The ship’s godfather, nationally-syndicated radio personality Elvis Duran, was on hand, as well. Guests enjoyed a performance of the line’s original musical theatre show, ¡HAVANA!.

A cocktail reception on board featured an appearance by Frankie Valli and Bob Gaudio. The two are original members of The Four Seasons, the group that inspired the Tony award-winning musical Jersey Boys. The evening ended with the Norwegian Bliss premier of Jersey Boys in Bliss Theater.

“Norwegian has been committed to providing our guests with the finest entertainment at sea and we have elevated this commitment by introducing Jersey Boys and ¡HAVANA! onboard Norwegian Bliss,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “It has been such an honour to have icons in the music and theatre world partner with and join us on this inaugural tour.”

Norwegian Bliss will sail a preview cruise out of PortMiami from May 8 to 10. Special guests include the hull artist, Wyland, the godfather, Duran, as well as television personalities.

After the Miami cruise, Norwegian Bliss will cross the Panama Canal, making history as the largest cruise ship to ever do so. Preview events will take place in Los Angeles from May 25 to 27. The ship will then travel to Seattle. After the christening on May 30, Norwegian Bliss will sail a three-day exhibition cruise.

Norwegian Bliss will begin a series of seven-day Alaska cruises June 2. Calls include Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, British Columbia. For the fall/winter season, Norwegian Bliss will sail to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles. She’ll also sail to the Eastern Caribbean from Miami.

In 2019, Norwegian Bliss will return to New York City. From there, she’ll sail seven-day voyages to the Bahamas and Florida, as well as the southern and western Caribbean.

Norwegian: Revenue Management System Helps Booking Curve

Norwegian Joy | Photo: Satoshi Ishihara

A propriety revenue management platform at Norwegian Cruise Line has been key to the development of the optimal booking curve, according to a company presentation.

Norwegian said its revenue management strategy starts with deployment, which is the number one driver of pricing. Deployment decisions have helped lead an expansion into premium destinations for the brand.

On premium deployments, the company follows an itinerary-specific port optimization plan, while leveraging its own ports and reviewing and improving the “lowest performing products.”

After deployment and the stateroom mix, Norwegian said staying on an optimal booking curve is the next most important tool for driving pricing as the revenue management system will dynamically optimize each sailings’ booking curve.

As sailings near, the company will make investments in marketing to drive demand.

“Value is now our primary promotional lever, not price,” the company said.

In the big picture, disciplined capacity growth has allowed the company to fill ships and command pricing strength.

One more Breakaway-plus class ship, the Norwegian Encore, follows in 2019. After that, it’s four smaller Leonardo-class newbuilds.

The 3,300-guest ships are slightly smaller, at 140,000-tons, and will have a footprint to allow for more deployment options, the company said, including unserved and underserved markets.

Unserved markets for Norwegian, according to its own presentation, include Ft. Lauderdale, Mobile, Baltimore, Texas, Charleston and Jacksonville.

Underserved markets include Alaska, Los Angeles, Australia, Tampa, Cuba and Boston.