NORWEGIAN Cruise Line (NCL) recently celebrated the inaugural US sailing of its newly renovated ship Norwegian Joy, as she relocates from homeporting in Shanghai to Alaskan waters.
The vessel underwent a US$50 million renovation to make the transition, taking Joy from a ship specifically built for the Chinese market and making her almost identical to her sister-ship Norwegian Bliss.
As part of the revamp, all the carpet was replaced, along with the addition of 13 new bar and dining locations, replacing some of the casino and shopping spaces onboard. On the top deck of the ship, the race-track was widened in spots to allow more opportunities for overtaking and a number of new pools and water attractions have been installed in place of the peace garden that was on the Chinese-iteration of Joy.
travelBulletin was lucky enough to experience the ship on her inaugural US sailing, along with Australian trade partners, agents and media from across the globe.
Joy now has a total of 18 dining options and 19 bars and lounges. The Garden Cafe is the only buffet and offers a huge range of different cuisines for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including an omelette station in the mornings and a pasta station at lunch. At restaurants Taste and Savour, cruisers are treated to an excellent dining experience for breakfast, lunch and dinner, especially impressive since they are complimentary. The menu is a la carte and served with fine linen and a great range of menu options. A similar experience is in store at Manhattan, which is only open for dinner.
If the included dining options weren’t enough, foodies will be in heaven at the huge range of specialty restaurants that are available. Seafood, Italian, French, Texan barbeque and teppanyaki and more are available to eat at for an extra charge. Our favourites were definitely Ocean Blue, the seafood-focused restaurants, and Q Texas Smokehouse which not only offers finger-licking (literally) mains like ribs and brisket but also includes live country music which will have you tapping your toes.
Speaking of entertainment, Joy is the first ship to show the musical Footloose at sea. The performance is a lot of fun, with excellent choreography and that familiar soundtrack. Joy also features Elements, which combines acrobatics and dance to keep you entertained.
Families will also love the range of activities to keep kids of all ages happy, from the race-track, laser-tag and the Galaxy Pavilion featuring virtual reality gaming. The race-track and laser tag are included for those guests staying in the Haven, but cost additional for other guests.
The Haven is another feature which makes Joy perfect for families, particularly those travelling with many generations. Almost a ship within a ship, guests of the Haven could spend their whole cruise within the luxury enclave, which has its own pool, lounge and restaurant.
Although Joy can accommodate up to 3,804 guests, with the huge range of public spaces, it never feels overcrowded. And for Aussies, it can be a great way to experience Alaska.
The destination is one that Nicole Costantin, Vice President Sales, Australia and New Zealand, NCL believes will appeal to Australians, with its soft adventure experiences perfect for families.
For NCL, transforming Joy and having her join Bliss in Alaska is just the next piece of the puzzle.
Joy is one of the youngest ships to undergo a renovation of this magnitude, but the decision was prompted by the incredible success that her sister-ship Bliss has had.
“Bliss was so successful in her launch that there wasn’t any space,” said Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH). “Now having two ships here and getting into a third season there’s a lot of opportunity.”
With Joy joining Bliss, the line has effectively doubled its beds in the region, giving Aussies plenty of opportunities to experience the destination.