Norwegian Joy makes river journey from shipyard to sea

Norwegian Cruise Line is closer to getting its hands on its newest ship, Norwegian Joy, which made the slow river journey from the shipyard getting set for sea trials in the North Sea.

The third Breakaway Plus class ship that will serve the Chinese market from Shanghai beginning this summer made the 14-hour-long trip on March 26 along the north-flowing Ems River from Meyer Werft shipyards in Papenburg, Germany. It was assisted by tugboats and had to travel stern-first (as in backward) to make the journey.

"We are thrilled Norwegian Joy has officially begun her journey to China,” said David Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. “As the first custom-built ship for the Chinese cruise market, she will offer a First Class at Sea experience for our guests and we cannot wait to officially welcome her to the fleet this June."

The ship made it to Eemshaven, Netherlands on Monday evening, March 27 where it will get ready for a trip to the North Sea to begin sea trials. Delivery of the ship to the cruise line will take place April 27. A christening ceremony with the ship's godfather, the "King of Chinese Pop" Wang Leehom will take place June 27.

At 168,800 gross tons, 1,094 feet long and 136 feet wide, Norwegian Joy joins Miami-based Norwegian Escape as the largest ships in Norwegian's 15-ship fleet. 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. A fourth unnamed ship is slated for winter 2019. The line also has four smaller ships on order to come between 2022-2025.

Joy is a 3,850-passenger vessel as double occupancy. Its signature hull design is by Chinese artist Tan Ping. Its construction has been progressing since last April. 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. The ship will also feature an entertainment venue called the Galaxy Pavilion with hover craft bumper cars and simulator rides.

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.

Accommodations 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 first ship 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 both Shanghai and Tianjin (which is close to Beijing).

Norwegian Cruise Line gives first look at Project Leonardo cruise ships »

Norwegian Bliss coming to Florida »

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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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