The Norwegian Bliss: Big race track, big milkshakes

Travel Weekly’s Johanna Jainchill (foreground) driving a go-kart on the Norwegian Bliss.NEW YORK — The Norwegian Bliss’ arrival here on May 3 marked the U.S. debut of the largest racetrack at sea and the Tony award-winning Broadway Show “Jersey Boys” on a cruise ship.

Elvis Duran, the morning radio show host who is the ship’s godfather, hosted his May 4 show from the Bliss and along with his entourage, spent the weekend taking full advantage of all the ship had to offer. Duran was spotted racing around the go-kart track; eating barbecue at Q, the line’s new Texas smokehouse; and dining at Los Lobos, the second outpost of Norwegian’s upscale Mexican restaurant.

Brisket and sides at the Q Texas Smokehouse. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill
Brisket and sides at the Q Texas Smokehouse. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill

“This is a whole new time for cruising,” Duran told the media, adding that it’s not about “blue hairs” and “buffets” anymore. He gave a specific shout-out to the ship’s crew: “The people who work here are the magic of the Norwegian Bliss. ”

Also onboard was Franki Valli, whose story is portrayed in “Jersey Boys.” He caught the Bliss’ production of the musical, featuring hits by Valli’s 1960s-era band, The Four Seasons. They include “December 1963 (Oh What a Night),” “Sherry,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Working My Way Back to You.”

The two-level go-kart racetrack occupies the top aft of the ship. The track made its debut for Norwegian on the China-based Norwegian Joy, so this iteration is a first for the North American cruise market and the largest at sea, about 40% bigger than the Joy’s. Cruisers here were excited about the $7 ride, on which up to ten electric go-karts can race each other day and night. Two-person cars allow young children to ride with someone else.

Other firsts on Norwegian’s 16th ship is Coco’s, an a la carte dessert venue with several types of house-made chocolates, gelato and sundaes. Coco’s serves Instagram-worthy Mad Milk Shakes, which are definitely sized for sharing. The $14.99 Snickers Bar has pieces of its namesake candy bar, chocolate gelato, marshmallow and whipped cream and is garnished with a jumbo rainbow lollipop.

At Coco's, two Mad Milk Shakes: the Snickers Bar and Cookies 'N Cream. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill
At Coco’s, two Mad Milk Shakes: the Snickers Bar and Cookies ‘N Cream. Photo Credit: Johanna Jainchill

The Bliss also brought to the U.S. the open-air laser tag course that debuted on the Joy, and Norwegian’s first Starbucks cafe, in a nod to its Seattle homeport.

The 4,000-passenger, 167,800-gross-ton Bliss has the line’s largest Haven area, which has 50 luxury suites within the Haven complex and another 30 outside which offer access to its facilities and perks, such as a private restaurant, bar, concierge, lounge,and the two-story Haven Courtyard with a retractable roof over a pool, two whirlpools and a sundeck.

The Bliss’ Haven area has a two-story Horizon Lounge with panoramic views, designed with Alaska sailings in mind.

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Agents enthused about Norwegian Bliss

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The Haven is one of agents’ favorite features on Norwegian Cruise Line ships. Pictured, a rendering of The Haven’s restaurant on Norwegian Bliss.

LAS VEGAS — Agents praised Norwegian Cruise Line’s history of innovation after seeing the new features planned for the Norwegian Bliss, unveiled at Virtuoso Travel Week here.

Among the Bliss’ attractions are a go-cart course longer than the one that first debuted aboard the Norwegian Joy, an enclosed water slide that projects riders out over the side of the ship and an outdoor laser-tag course.

It will feature some new restaurants — like upscale barbecue eatery Q and a sweets emporium dedicated to chocolate called Coco — as well as some old favorites like Cagney’s.

Andy Stuart, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said the mix of new and old is all about balance.

“We’re trying to bring a lot of new innovations, things our guests have never seen, and combine them with the things our guests absolutely love,” he said.

The agents in attendance for Norwegian’s announcement took notice of that, and said the cruise line has always been a leader in innovation.

“The Bliss just kind of ups the entertainment part. Norwegian Cruise Line has always been really excellent, and really the best, on their entertainment — that shines for them,” said Nancy K. Yale, president of Cruise and World Travel in Fairfield, Conn.

She said the go-carts in particular are a feature that will attract all ages, and called them an “interesting concept.”

John Maguire, CEO and president of Morristown, N.J.-based CruiseDirect.com, also pointed to the innovative features on the Bliss as a highlight.

“They’re always first in innovation,” Maguire said of Norwegian. “They’re always out there doing things other people aren’t doing.”

Lea Nielsen, CruiseDirect.com’s vice president of sales, said she was excited about the dining venues, especially the new additions.

According to Stuart, The Haven on the Bliss will be the largest ever built, something Virtuoso agents will find attractive. The Haven features the line’s largest and most well-appointed accommodations and exclusive venues for guests staying there.

Yale called The Haven “the thing I like most” about Norwegian Cruise Line ships.

“The Haven is an upscale, ship-within-a-ship, and the service and everything up there is as good as any of the luxury cruise lines. It is great for family vacations and multigenerational groups.”

In addition to showing agents renderings of the Bliss and its features, Norwegian also enabled them to experience it live using virtual reality. They could don headsets and virtually ride a go-cart or slide down the water slide, among other experiences.

Meyer Werft: Construction & keel-laying of the Norwegian Joy

Photo: Meyer Werft

Norwegian Joy Keel Laying
 

Construction of the fourth vessel for Norwegian Cruise Line

The construction of the first phase of the latest fleet member Norwegian Cruise Line has begun. Shareholders and members of the board of the US shipping company and representatives of the MEYER WERFT attended the keel was laid on 5 April 2016th During the celebration of the block 45 of 168,800 gt vessel was lifted into the covered building dock II shipyard.

Photo: Meyer Werft

Photo: Meyer Werft

Andy Stuart, president of Norwegian Cruise Line, Harry Sommer, EPP Norwegian Cruise Line International and David Herera, President Norwegian Cruise Line China laid the traditional “lucky penny” under the block before the 680-ton component to the 800-ton crane on was placed the few days earlier docked machine room module.

Photo: Meyer Werft

Photo: from left – Lambert Kruse, Managing Meyer Werft, Harry Sommer, EPP Norwegian Cruise Line International, Andy Stuart, president of Norwegian Cruise Line, Bernard Meyer, managing director Meyer Werft, David Herera, President Norwegian Cruise Line China, Alex Xiang, Vice President of Sales, China

“We are excited today the keel laying of the Norwegian Joy with our partner of Meyer celebrate shipyard” , says Andy Stuart. “The beginning of the assembly process is an important milestone and we are aware of the good work of the yard, with the Norwegian Joy again for a classic to build the ship. “

Already in 12 months the ship will be ready and complete the sea trials in the North Sea. The Norwegian Joy is the fourth of six ships which MEYER WERFT will finish up in 2019 for Norwegian Cruise Line.

“Today we have the first placed of about 80 blocks in our dry dock” , said Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft.“It makes us very proud to continue to build the Norwegian Joy our good cooperation with our longstanding customer Norwegian Cruise Line. “

Once completed, the Norwegian Joy her first trip to China takes in the summer 2017th As a developed specifically for the Asian market ship will be used exclusively for Chinese travelers.

The 4,200 passengers bidding cruise ship has a length of 324 meters and a width of 41.4 meters. The new building will combine the advantages of Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Escape and offer guests on another deck many additional facilities and attractions.