Fresh from undergoing a US$50 million facelift, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy is making her way to Alaska for her inaugural season.
Originally designed for the Chinese cruise market, Norwegian Joy initially called Shanghai and Beijing (Tianjin) home when she debuted in 2017. Joy will now be homeported in North America – in Alaska for the Northern Hemisphere summer and Los Angeles in the fall.
Like Majestic Princess and Ovation of the Seas, these high-tech ships were originally expected to spend most of their lives taking mainland Chinese passengers around the region. But finding the right formula for the Chinese market is still a work in progress.
China’s loss is a gain for the Western world.
So Norwegian Joy has been revamped to appeal to the North American market, with 13 new dining, bar and lounge venues, mirroring the facilities of sister ship, Norwegian Bliss, which is also currently sailing in Alaska.
NCL Holdings see Australians as an important market for Alaska as both Bliss and Joy will appeal to families looking for soft adventure experiences.
“Because we have these big new ships in Alaska, which are more family orientated, we see a big potential for growth from Australians,” Steve Odell, the line’s senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific told trade magazine Travel Daily.
Australia is now the biggest international market for NCL, outside of North America and Canada. Australians now make up around 10 -15 per cent of the line’s total passengers, beating the UK market for the first time this year.
Norwegian Jewel is homeported in Sydney for the summer season and is unlikely to be based here year-round.
“Between April and October we can have a ship in Alaska or Europe earning twice as much,” Mr Odell said.
The revamped Norwegian Joy has the exclusive Concierge level accommodation which includes perks such as 24/7 concierge service, priority embarkation/disembarkation, an exclusive lounge, 24-hour room service and private breakfast.
The ship’s two-level go kart racing track has been widened to give passengers more opportunities to overtake competing karts, the pool deck has been updated with extra pools by removing the outdoor garden, predominantly used for tai-chi exercises, popular among Chinese clients.
The ship’s carpets have also been replaced and some of the casino and retail spaces on board have made way for the new dining venues.