Norwegian Joy gets first taste of water

The water rushed in and Norwegian Cruise Line's latest cruise ship, Norwegian Joy, proved it can float.

The 168,800-ton, 3,850-passenger vessel with its signature hull design by Chinese artist Tan Ping emerged from the covered building at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany where construction has been progressing since last April. The float out marks the beginning of the end run for the ship's construction ahead of its handover to Norwegian later this spring.

A sister ship to Norwegian Escape that sails out of Miami, this second Breakaway Plus Class ship, will make its way to China after the April 27 handover. A third ship in the class, Norwegian Bliss will debut in 2018 and is slated to sail both Alaska and the Caribbean out of Miami.

In the meantime, Joy will debut several innovations for the cruise industry including the first race track at sea, a two-level, eight-turn track that can race 10 cars at a time, 35-40 mph, according to Frank del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. The ship will also feature an entertainment venue called the Galaxy Pavilion with hover craft bumper cars and simulator rides.

"I refuse to copy others, just won't do it," said del Rio. "Even it was the best 'I wish I could have this on board.' So we're always looking for true differentiation. We think the Galaxy Pavilion is one, only race track on board is another. I want to see somebody beat that."

The ship will also have an observation deck with 180-degree views, an open-air laser tag course and two multistory water slides, one of which will extend out over the edge of the ship, and a second that will allow riders to race side by side on inner tubes.

Accomodations on board will include The Haven, the line's ship-within-a-ship concept as well as a new Concierge Level category with larger balcony staterooms, concierge service and exclusive lounge with private bar.

Joy is the line's 15th ship, and the first built specifically for China. The growing Chinese cruise market has seen several lines sending new ships to serve that countries' ports including Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas. Joy will sail out of Shanghai and Tianjin (which is close to Beijing).

"We are thrilled that Norwegian Joy is now one step closer to delivery and one step closer to delivering on our promise to create a First Class at Sea experience for our Chinese guests,” said Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China President David J. Herrera in a press release. "From the ship’s beautiful and symbolic hull artwork to her thrilling first-ever racetrack at sea, Norwegian Joy represents Norwegian Cruise Line’s commitment to providing an unparalleled cruise experience for Chinese consumers."

rtribou@orlandosentinel.com, 407-420-5134

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times

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Norwegian Bliss coming to Florida

While Alaska will be the first seasonal destination for Norwegian Bliss, Miami will get seconds. The Breakaway Plus class ship that is a sister to Norwegian Escape will sail out of PortMiami for the winter season starting in November 2018.

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