Monday,  May 20, 2019  12:56 pm

PAX On Location: Norwegian Joy makes her North American debut


PAX On Location: Norwegian Joy makes her North American debut
Ming Tappin

Ming Tappin, a cruise expert and industry veteran based in Vancouver, is the owner of Your Cruise Coach Consulting.

PAX just returned from the Norwegian Joy’s North American inaugural sailing from Vancouver to Los Angeles.

READ MORE: NCL's three popular ships are now fully refurbished

The Joy, which was purpose-built for the Chinese market, was launched in 2017 and homeported in Shanghai. Before being re-deployed to North America, the ship underwent a $50 million ‘westernization’ refurbishment.

“We took delivery of the Joy two years ago, but it feels like we just took delivery of her again as a new ship this month," said Andy Stuart, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line. "Every carpet has been replaced. There were trees on the Lido, the gym was small, we changed all that. Have you ever renovated the bathroom in your house, and remember how hard that was? Now imagine what it took to transform this entire ship in just 47 days!” 

A complete transformation

There is virtually no trace left of the Joy’s former self. 

Her tea rooms and noodle bars were replaced with signature specialty restaurants such as Q Texas Smokehouse, Cagney’s (steakhouse,) La Cucina (Italian), Ocean Blue (seafood), and Le Bistro haute French cuisine. 

The retail space that used to carry high end designer brands now offers affordable watches and jewellery, and the VIP high roller casino in the Haven has been replaced by a library. 

She is now almost identical to her sister ship Norwegian Bliss, with her own Speedway go-kart track, laser-tag, 180° Observation Lounge, and iconic Waterfront dining. Innovative art work, contemporary furnishings and upholstery project visual appeal with soothing colours of chocolate, muted blues, greys and greens. 

As part of the NCLH family of brands, the décor certainly reflects influence from her premium sisters Oceania and Regent.

Boosted beverages 

A variety of specialty bars complement the Joy’s extensive dining options. 

SugarCane Mojito Bar crafts the classic mojito, plus additional fruity variations such as raspberry guava and honey ginger. 

At The Cellars, Norwegian is the first at sea to offer high end wines by the glass by using the Coravin needle to withdraw a sample through the wine’s cork, without having to open the bottle.

Beer lovers can visit the District Brew House, which boasts 81 varieties of beer including more than 20 on tap. And for discerning taste buds, Maltings Whiskey Bar offers international spirits. 

There are also three licensed Starbucks outlets, including a bicycle cart that dispenses Nitro Cold Brew, delivering a cup of refreshingly creamy java with a big jolt.

West Coast advantage

When asked what the introduction of Joy means to Western Canadian agents, Derek Lloyd, Norwegian’s national director of sales for Canada, spoke about her strategic positioning. 

The Norwegian Star in 2001 was the last brand new ship dedicated to the West Coast.

“With Joy, Western Canadian clients have a reason to try the Mexican Riviera - or even go back again – as a sun destination closer to home," Lloyd said. "But with a ship of this calibre, we are not longer just an entry level contemporary product. Travel partners need to understand that our prices have gone up 30 percent, and people are willing to pay to experience this amazing hardware. It requires a deeper conversation with customers to educate them on our value proposition. Talk to them about our Free at Sea program, which makes us comparable to an all inclusive vacation.”

Here are a few exclusive features found onboard Norwegian Joy:

Concierge level accommodations

This brand new category of family and penthouse suites range from 338 to 561 square feet. Benefits include priority embarkation and disembarkation, breakfast and lunch in a private restaurant, and services of a concierge to cater to the guests’ needs.

Galaxy Pavilion

This virtual reality arcade is the only venue carried over from the original Joy. With immersive VR experiences including alien and robot shooting games, simulator rides, interactive video walls and more, this area appeals to adults and youths alike.

Footloose & Elements

Norwegian brings two new production shows to the Joy. Footloose is a lively rendition of the 1984 musical drama, while Elements is the artistic depiction of Earth, Air, Water and Fire through aerial acrobatics, magic and dance. Both shows are high-energy performances drawing standing ovations from the crowd.

The Norwegian Joy will be homeported in Seattle for her Alaska season starting on May 4. In September, she will offer a coastal cruise and two Panama Canal sailings, before spending the winter in the Mexican Riviera, sailing from Los Angeles.

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