Posted by: cruise2 | 24 January, 2011

Where NCL’s Freestyle Cruising and Hull Art Came From

AIDA in Malta IMO: 9221566 MMSI: 247117400 Cal...

Image via Wikipedia


Courtesy of Mark Tré - "The Cruise Examiner" at

A recent issue of "Hansa International Maritime Journal" from Germany served to remind us of where Freestyle Cruising had come from. Most of us know that when Star Cruises built  SuperStar Leo (now Norwegian Spirit) and SuperStar Virgo in 1998/99 that it incorporated no fewer than sixteen food and beverage outlets, an industry first.

But Hanse reminded us that In 1996, the old Deutsche Seerederei (DSR) commissioned the cruise ship Aida, the first of many to sail under the "Club Ship" concept. And when the market took a while to get used to this new all-buffet type of ship (they certainly are now) she had to be sold after about a year of operation. The buyers? None other than NCL, who proceeded to charter the ship back to Aida between 1997 and 1999, before selling her back to them. During this time it seems NCL took notice of the lipstick and eyes that had been painted on the hull of Aida, as well as her many buffet restaurants.

A year after selling Aida back to German ownership again, NCL itself was acquired by Star Cruises, who had just introduced SuperStar Leo and Virgo and set about ordering similar ships for NCL from the same Meyer Werft shipyard that had built the Star ships. In fact, ships that had originally been ordered for Star were simply switched to NCL.

At about the same time as all this was happening, lo and behold, NCL came up with its own updated version of cruising that it called "Freestyle Cruising." From the hull art and buffets of Aida and the multiple food outlets of Star Cruises came the American version of what is to-day called Freestyle, the epitome of which has not yet been reached. Last year’s Norwegian Epic is only the latest version as NCL have now gone back to Meyer Werft again for two updated versions, that will also be far better looking than the Epic.


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