Norwegian Cruise Line has firmly set its sights on the Asian market, with the deployment of its brand new Norwegian Joy to sail out of Beijing and Shanghai year-round. The vessel was showcased in a series of preview events across the region last month, cruising from Singapore to Hong Kong and onward to Shanghai with key industry partners – including Australian agents and wholesalers – taking part.

travelBulletin travelled to Hong Kong to check the ship out, and it’s certainly a game-changer. Said to be the first vessel expressly designed for the Asian market, Joy actually has a very wide appeal with 28 on-board dining options, a host of activities and entertainment and accommodation to suit people of all ages, including extended family groups.

There’s plenty of action, with the ship featuring a two-storey go-kart track on the top deck, along with a laser tag arena and a “serenity garden” for those who want a bit of peace. Inside there’s the ‘Galaxy Pavilion’ – an area hosting a range of interactive games including a virtual reality roller coaster, video consoles and much more. There are dedicated Karaoke rooms, a large theatre, a tea room and plenty of other spaces to make the most of passengers’ time on board.

Our host during the ship tour said a key feature for the Asian market was the array of on-board gambling options which include gaming floors and two VIP casinos, one of which is in the exclusive “The Haven” on-board enclave which features its own bar, lounge and restaurant. There’s also a huge array of shopping available for those wanting to exercise their retail muscles. An extensive spa complements on-board beauty treatment options, and there’s also a large gym for those trying to stay in shape between all those delicious meals.

While Norwegian Joy is primarily targeting the Chinese market, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is also offering the product to Australian travellers, with a number of cruise specialist wholesalers bundling short cruises ex Shanghai or Beijing as part of wider Chinese travel packages.

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