As you may have summized from purusing the post, we have a wonderful panel of experts here, including one guy from the NCL Marketing Dept. ( ). Unfortunately, I am NOT one of them. But I'd like to pass along my opinion.
IMHO: NCL has no plans to renovate or revive ANY of the three wonderful old ships. They purchased Indy and SSUS for a song to keep others from having a shortcut into their lucrative Hawai'i market. That's a smart strategic business move, but it also angers many cruise purists. I'd love to see them all sail again, especially a spiffed up Big-U or a repaired Norway. But as a businessman, I'm guessing NCL views these as old worn-out machines that need to be written off and scrapped.
They much-prefer the big white clorox-bottle cattle cars that generate a ton of revenue at half the cost. Even if they LOOK like ca-ca, have no personality, and otherwise add nothing to the beauty of this world:
Carnival Cruise Lines’ M/S Elation discovered something else during the sea trials after the retrofit. Compared to her sister ships – same hull, traditional propulsion – the Azipod used 10 percent less fuel.
Why are azipods more efficent?
No rudder drag and with forward facing (pulling) propellers, no shaft lines masking the center of the propeller, effectively making the same size propeller larger.
Other advantages for azipods?
(1) Much less vibration felt within the hull, since all the mechanical devices used to propel the ship are outside the hull.
(2) Space and weight savings within the ship caused by not having to have diesels or gas turbines placed along a shaft.
(3) Eliminate stern side thrusters with the main azipods replacing them.
Assuming that the design of Norways Hull could except the Azipods, yes the boilers need to go. Really they need to go regardless of what type of propulsion you want to use. They are just too inefficient fuel wise and take more crew members to run. Personel a GT/Azipod system looks real nice on paper...now if only I had enough green paper to make it work!
And before I forget again (senility creeping up on me) to put any of the older ships back in service you need a line to take them or you need to create your own line. Right off the pier you are behind the rest before you make open water. They have economy of scale, Norway, Connie, Big U won't. Look at Orient Lines. Marco Polo(bought for 3 mil) got a 30 million refurbishment then went into service with a great product, which all had to be created from scratch. Norway could probably do it too, but from what I see, your looking at a $200-300 million investment, because lets face it, Norway needs an enima. New engines, new stateroom arrangement, total refurbish of everything else...that's big bucks! And since I don't have it and it appears you kind folks don't either, it probably won't happen. And if that wasn't enough to depress you, let me just mention this. How long before QE2 is considered excess bagage, now that Queen Victoria will launch next year? They are already saying she will stop trans atlantic and just work out of Southhampton, whats next? The breakers?
Cunard do not want to make the same mistake with the QE2 that NCL has made with Norway. They've already issued a statement (little that it counts) stating that they would like to make an arrangement with Southampton for the ship to be sold into their hands as a floating hotel and museum. It is essentially Queens Mary and Elizabeth all over again. How can they face the publicity of selling the most famous and beloved of ships for scrap? I think they'd like to save face by trading her for static use. Would the public stand for anything else? The British are so proud of the QE2 and what she stands for, not to mention what she has accomplished. But it's more guesswork. I always assumed she would be retired in 2009 to conincide with the 40th anniversary of her maiden voyage - not coincidentally being the year before the SOLAS ammendments come into effect.
As for SS United States, I don't think NCL will scrap her any time soon. I'm guessing that since they have dedicated a libary on their new Pride of Hawai'i to the Big U they aren't going to flush her in the near future. Most likely she will sit rusting for a couple of more years until NCL admits that she cannot be restored to service. But they'll string it out and milk their association with her for what little it's worth. Personally, I think the Big U would make a fine museum celebrating American maritime history. You couldn't get more fitting than that.