Norwegian’s Next Cruise Ship Norwegian Aqua is Floated by Fincantieri

Norwegian Aqua
Norwegian's newest cruise readied for its float out today in Italy (Fincantieri)

Published Apr 23, 2024 4:40 PM by The Maritime Executive


Norwegian Cruise Line marked the float out today of its next, mega cruise ship, the Norwegian Aqua. The ship is being built at Fincantieri in Marghera, Italy (near Venice) and is scheduled to enter service in the spring of 2026. 

The order for this ship was placed as part of the company’s pre-pandemic plans but later enlarged to improve the economics of the vessel. The first of the class was introduced in 2022, the Norwegian Prima, and a sister ship Norwegian Viva in 2023 using a unique design from Fincantieri that increases outdoor space. The company originally said the class would be smaller than its largest ships to provide more flexibility in the ports and itineraries but later revised the strategy using a commonly employed strategy of lengthening the hull design to increase capacity as well as passenger amenities.

The Norwegian Aqua is 1,506 feet in length and will measure 156,300 gross tons when completed versus the Norwegian Prima which is 965 feet in length and 143,535 gross tons.  The capacity on the first two ships is 3,099 passengers (double occupancy) while on the Norwegian Aqua, the capacity will be 3,571 passengers (double occupancy).


Rendering of the cruise ship due to enter service in 2026 (NCL)


Increasing the size of the Norwegian Aqua and a sister due in 2026 by 10 percent also added space for revised amenities on the cruise ships. The line decided to forego its go-cart race track and instead will have a hybrid rollercoaster and waterslide on the Norwegian Aqua. Wrapping around the funnel, they highlight the ride has dual slides, two courses, and a magnetic lift. The extra space also includes the size of the suite enclave to 123 suites and includes the line’s first four two-story, three-bedroom duplex suites. The suite area also has private deck space, a restaurant, and a lounge. Norwegian is also revising the restaurants on the ship and adding a new digital sports complex.

Fincantieri reports today’s launch of the Norwegian Aqua marks the first time the new ship has touched water. The exterior work of the ship is completed and she will continue outfitting. She is due to enter service in April 2025 for Norwegian first cruising from Port Canaveral to the Caribbean. She will also operate from New York late in the summer and fall of 2025, and then reposition to Miami for Caribbean cruises in the winter of 2025-2026.


Hybrid rollercoaster and water slide planned for Norwegian Aqua (NCL)


Details have not been announced for the sister ship due in 2026. In 2027 and 2028, the cruise line is scheduled to introduce two further ships of the class that will again be enlarged. Those ships are being built methanol-ready and will be 169,000 gross tons. They will have accommodations for 3,850 passengers (double occupancy).

Norwegian also recently mapped out its long-term strategy with the order of four additional cruise ships to be built by Fincantieri. They will be 200,000 gross tons each with accommodations for approximately 5,000 passengers per ship. The deliveries are scheduled to start in 2030 and continue at two-year intervals until 2036.

The company is calling the Norwegian Aqua part of its evolving experience offered to passengers. They plan to build on existing features and introduce additional amenities with the new vessels. Norwegian Cruise Line currently has the highest number of cruise ships, eight counting Norwegian Aqua, on order of the broad market contemporary brands. Carnival Cruise Line this year ordered two additional 180,000 gross ton cruise ships while MSC Cruises has four 216,000 gross ton cruise ships ordered. Royal Caribbean International, so far, has not ordered cruise ships since the pandemic but has two additional 248,000 gross ton sister ships to the Icon of the Seas being built in Finland.