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Will a $400 million investment in cruise ships, cuisine and private destinations keep passengers coming back for more? Norwegian Cruise Line is about to find out.

Norwegian Cruise Line has rolled out three new ships since 2013 and wants to make sure — to the tune of $400 million — that the rest of its fleet doesn’t pale by comparison.

The Miami-based cruise company on Thursday put a name and a number to a notion executives have been floating for months: To expect passengers to pay more for a vacation on their ships, Norwegian first needs to shell out.

The Norwegian Edge program, as the new effort is called, is meant to modernize the bulk of the line’s fleet, freshen up its menus and improve its private stops in Belize and the Bahamas.

“The new standards of The Norwegian Edge program will entice our guests to return again and again to ships that will look and feel as if they were just delivered,” Norwegian Cruise Line president and chief operating officer Andy Stuart said in a statement.

Nine of the company’s 14 ships are in line for extensive updates by spring of 2017. So far, two of those have already been renovated: Norwegian Epic, first introduced in 2010, and Norwegian Gem, which debuted in 2007. On both vessels, the upscale ship-within-a-ship area called The Haven got a makeover, restaurants were refreshed, and decorations, furniture and floors were replaced in public spaces.

Norwegian, which included a Margaritaville and a restaurant from Iron Chef Jose Garces on its newest ship, also said unspecified food and beverage partnerships would expand.

While adding more modern options such as grouper, ceviche, scallops, and short ribs in the free main dining room, the company will also introduce more variety at restaurants that charge a fee on six ships over the next several months.

Luxury cabanas and other private areas for lounging are among the features to be added to the port destinations at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian’s private island in the Bahamas, and Harvest Caye in Belize, which is scheduled to open late this year.

Last year, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio explained why he thought the company needed to invest more in the Norwegian Cruise Line product.

“You have to spend a little money on some areas to be able to facilitate the onboard experience,” he said. “Perhaps there was some underspending in prior years that we’re playing some catch-up on.”


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Tags: cruise, norwegian cruise line

Photo credit: Norwegian Epic was updated in late 2015; as part of a $400 million program, another eight ships will get upgrades by 2017. Norwegian Cruise Line

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