A parade of new ships is set to sail from Miami, with the latest to be announced Tuesday.
After a lull that ended in the summer of 2010, new cruise ships keep lining up to call Miami home.
The latest announcement is expected Tuesday, when Norwegian Cruise Line is set to officially reveal that its ship due in 2014, Norwegian Getaway, will sail year-round from PortMiami.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Norwegian President and CEO Kevin Sheehan. “It’s going to be Miami’s ship.”
The 4,000-passenger ship is set to debut in the spring of 2014; Sheehan said it will be the largest passenger ship to home port in Miami year-round. Norwegian Epic, which has sailed from Miami seasonally since 2010, carries 4,100 passengers.
When the Getaway arrives in two years, it will follow a long line of new and new-to-Miami ships.
In late November and early December, three brand new ships — of the four launching in the U.S. — will start sailing from PortMiami: Celebrity Reflection, Oceania Riviera and Carnival Breeze.
The 3,030-passenger Celebrity Reflection and Oceania Riviera, with room for 1,250 passengers, will be based in Miami for the winter cruising season that begins in late 2012. Sailing year-round from Miami beginning in November will be Carnival Breeze, which at 3,690 passengers will be the largest Carnival Cruise Lines ship ever based here.
Several cruise lines will also be new to Miami, including Regent Seven Seas, which will bring two ships to the port in November and December 2012. Those ships previously sailed from Port Everglades, but Regent’s president said they would have a dedicated terminal in Miami, which would be more convenient for the line and passengers.
Disney Cruise Line will base a ship in Miami for the first time from December 2012 through May 2013, when Disney Wonder will sail four- and five-night itineraries.
And European line MSC Cruises, which currently sails to the Caribbean from Port Everglades, will sail from Miami in the 2013-14 winter season, though it has not yet said which ship it will deploy. The cruise line announced in January that it would sail exclusively from Miami under a new agreement with an initial term of three years.
“Obviously, we’re elated,” said PortMiami director Bill Johnson. “These ships generate huge volumes of passengers, huge economic impact.”
In 2011, more than 4 million cruise passengers traveled through the port for the fourth year in a row, according to figures released by PortMiami. By the time Norwegian Getaway arrives, that number is expected to be around 4.5 million.
Miami cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO of CruiseGuy.com, said that while Royal Caribbean International deploys its (and the world’s) largest ships from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, more opportunities have opened up for other lines to move in to Miami. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas, which each carry 5,400 passengers, are based year-round at Port Everglades. The number of multi-day cruise passengers moving through the Fort Lauderdale port reached more than 3.6 million in fiscal 2011, a record.
Chiron called 2012 “another monumental year” for the area’s cruise industry.
“It’s terrific,” he said, referring to the new ships sailing from Miami. “These are all wins for South Florida.”
Sheehan said Miami was the logical choice for his company, which like Carnival Corp. and Royal Caribbean Cruises is headquartered in Miami-Dade. The cruise operator will base Norwegian Breakaway, launching in April 2013, in New York City.
“I think you can almost get the crystal ball and see that it’s a market that will come back from the weak economy we had over the last number of years,” Sheehan said. “We can feel it happening. We’re big believers in Miami.”