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NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE is to launch two 4,900-passenger ships in a $2.8 billion deal.
The order, which includes the possibility of a third vessel, will see NCL step up competition against rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean in the race to deploy even larger cruise ships.
The first of the three $940 million, 150,000 gross ton, NCL ships is due to be delivered by the end of 2009, with the second in 2010. The third would enter service in 2011.
The order, the largest in NCL's 40 year history, will enable the line to introduce new on board features. All 1,415 outside cabins will have balconies but further details of the ship design and features will not be made available until nearer the first delivery date.