Tuesday, July 19, 2011

More "Studio" Cabins for Solo Cruisers (But Not, Alas, Until 2013)

Last night, I was among the 50 or so people who headed to Conde Naste Traveler's event room to celebrate that publication's first cruise-only issue; and hear an announcement from reality TV-star (didja see him on "Undercover Boss"?) and Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO Kevin Sheehan about the line's newest ships.

The good news in the presentation only slipped out by accident. Apparently, it wasn't supposed to be part of the presentation, but Sheehan, in answer to a question, announced that the line will be continuing with its innovative program of "studio" cabins, meant for solo travelers and carrying no singles supplement. As on the Norwegian Epic (the ship on which this new type of cabin debuted) the new boats will carry interior studios on two levels, again with their own lounge so that the solo travelers can mingle.

We should all applaud NCL for finally addressing the needs of this important yet ignored segment of the market. I, for one,am shocked that the other cruise lines haven't also started adding studios to their ships (okay, some have 3 or 4, but that's really more marketing than actual service, I think).

Sadly, these studio-carrying ships are still not far from the drafting stage and won't debut until spring of 2013 and 2014.

The actual point of the presentation was to tout Norwegian's ugly and classist "ship within a ship" concept, which will also be present on the line's newest ships. As on the Epic, there will be a two-deck enclave of the ship with luxury suites, a pool (a very small one from the look of the renderings), a restaurant and butler service. It will only be accessible via key card, a boon for those who don't want to mix with the hoi polloi and are willing to pay through the teeth for that priviledge. In discussing this area, which will be called "The Haven", Sheehan (who otherwise seems like a down-to-earth guy) talked about how Haven guests will have the option of sending their kids to the Nickleodeon Lounge, or visiting the shows on the open part of the ship, but also "the safety" (his words, not mine) of being able to retreat to their own luxury enclave.

"The safety"??? What, is the rest of the ship "Thunderdome" or the streets of Bagdad?

Am I the only one who finds this whole concept disturbing and too much like the Titanic?

I think I must have been the only one in the room last night to be put off by the 'ship within a ship' stuff (which isn't new, I grant, but still pretty icky). Several severely tanned women near me actually gasped out loud at the announcement of the name "Haven" and the pictures of the suites. It was bizarre.

So that's today's rant.

As I said earlier I give kudos to NCL for creating a terrific option for solo travelers (and also for inviting Blue Man Group onto the Epic and in one fell swoop vastly improving on-board entertainment options). But "The Haven" reminds me too much of "The Tax Haven", a concept I'm sure many of its guests will be familiar with.

7 comments:

  1. I am happy to hear NCL is addressing the solo cruiser as I am one, but HAL (Holland America Line) has a 1.5 rate for solo cruisers and you get a full-size cabin. I was just on the Holland America Eurodam and was extremely pleased with the room and the rate. Cruise ship rooms are small enough. I wouldn't want a studio.

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  2. Actually Luh, the studios are very nicely designed (I visited one). They really don't feel small. And the lounge is a nice touch, too. Glad to hear about HAL. Was that 1.5 rate a special promotion?

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  3. Too bad they are interior only on NCL...

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