by: Mark Tre
The new Le Boreal
Some people used to think that Norwegian Cruise Line had some of the better-looking cruise ships around, that is until they cast their eyes on Norwegian Epic, with her big lump of blue castle above the bridge. Starting with the Meyer-built Star ships that were transferred to NCL, its ships were long and had good lines that were pleasing on the eye. Some have commented more recently however that they have been getting a little boxy at the stern as more cabins are added to increase capacity (and profitability).
Equally, many have always maintained that Royal Caribbean International were the traditionalists who because of its real Norwegian background, had the most ship-like ships around, until Oasis of the Seas set sail. But just what can a designer do about size? Many maintain the "Brilliance" class may be the best-looking cruise ships around these days, although they are exceeded in size by the "Voyager," "Independence" and "Oasis" classes.
Princess on the other hand has been more derided for their basket funnels, some even with hair curlers in them (actually gas turbines), and the beak bows of the "Grand" class ships. However, even here it appears that the next pair of Princess ships will be rather more attractive, harking back in some ways to the original Renzo Piano-designed Crown and Regal Princess, both now moved into the P&O Australia fleet. A line going in the opposite direction perhaps.
Over at Carnival Cruise Lines, we have the Destiny class and the Vista class ships, all with their "whale tail" funnels that seem to have been adapted originally from the s.s. France, but with much more flair. Originally, the wings had to be removed from Carnival ships that were sold and one even ended up with the yellow "paint pot" funnel when it went to Costa. Costa, sister line to Carnival, uses the same designs for its ships but with those yellow paint pots up top that clearly differentiates its ships from Carnival’s, even if they may be very similar. To-day, two of the Carnival whale tail ships have also made it to the fleet of subsidiary Iberocruceros in Spain.
Celebrity Cruises, on the other hand, has always sought the input of yacht architects for its ships, from the original Horizon and Zenith, both now with Pullmantur, to the latest "Solstice" class ships. While the "Millenniums" were quite clunky, especially when they first came out in blue, the latest "Solstice" class ships have their followers, especially now that they have revived the idea of having two funnels in a row instead of side by side as on Epic and Oasis.
Lastly, we have Holland America Line, with its blue hulls and odd reversed funnels on its latest ships, which have sprung from a separate evolution of Carnival’s Vista class platform. Just like the NCL ships, HAL ships are getting boxier at the stern as more cabins are added until they are flush and no more space is left. And Cunard Line, with its evolved QE2-like funnel and the new Queen Elizabeth (which resembles the Nieuw Amsterdam externally) and Queen Victoria. Even here, Queen Elizabeth, to be christened in a month’s time by HM the Queen at Southampton, is boxier than Queen Victoria is at the stern.