The signature humpback whales of artist Wyland look more in their element as Norwegian Bliss had its float out ahead of its debut this spring.
The 4,000-passenger, 167,800-ton ship got its hull wet for the first time during the event at Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany on a recent Saturday.
The milestone means work on the exterior is finished and now Norwegian Cruise Line will spend the next month putting the final touches on the ship that will spend summer sailing in Alaska before repositioning to its winter home at PortMiami. Its next major event will be the conveyance from the shipyard in mid March down the Ems River ahead of sea trials in the North Sea.
“Our partners at Meyer Werft have done an excellent job realizing our vision for a ship designed to experience Alaska and the Caribbean like never before,” said line President and CEO Andy Stuart.
Delivery of the ship to cruise line is slated for April 19.
Norwegian Bliss is the third Breakaway Plus class ship after Norwegian Escape and Norwegian Joy, and will be followed in 2019 by Norwegian Encore. Its the 12th ship in the fleet to be constructed at Meyer Werft.
The Wyland artwork falls in line with the ship’s original announced destination: Alaska. The first seasonal sailings for the ship will begin in May with sailings from Seattle to Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway, Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia. While the ship will have media debuts in New York, Miami and Los Angeles, the official christening will be in Seattle on May 30, and its first Alaska voyage will be June 2. In the fall, Norwegian Bliss will sail some Mexican Riviera itineraries from Los Angeles, and then begin Caribbean sailings Nov. 17. The following year, the ship will spend its winter season sailing from New York, while new sister ship Norwegian Encore takes its place in Miami.
Norwegian Bliss’ signature feature will be the largest go-kart race track at sea, slightly bigger than the one on Norwegian Joy. Also on board will be a laser-tag course, a high-end barbecue venue, a water slide that sends riders out over the ocean and more.
The top-deck track will let riders scoot along at up to 30 mph on electric vehicles around 15 turns on two levels on nearly 1,000 feet of track.
“With these electric cars that are very fast but run silent,” Stuart said. “It’s been a great combination … you can crank it up and make them really fast and competitive.”
Unique to Bliss will be the Q-Texas Smokehouse, which will serve barbecue in a high-end setting set to contemporary pop country music as well as a complimentary dining venue called The Local that will serve pub fare in a relaxed neighborhood atmosphere 24 hours a day.
Another venue relatively new to the cruise line that will be on the ship will be Los Lobos, an elevated Mexican cuisine option that first debuted in 2016 aboard Norwegian Dawn. Also of note will be the cruise line’s first full-size Starbucks, the return of the microbrew-centric District Brew House, which will once again feature food offerings from the neighboring Food Republic.
Other extra-cost restaurant offerings include Norwegian mainstays Cagney’s Steakhouse, French offering Le Bistro, Italian restaurant La Cucina, seafood at Ocean Blue, Japanese hibachi steakhouse Teppanyaki, another Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville and The A-list bar, which is named for Andy Stuart, who is celebrating 30 years of service with the line.
Also on board will be six infinity hot tubs as part of the two-pool sundeck, a kids’ aqua park, spaces for teens, pre-teens and children, a new dessert venue called Coco’s with a decorative oversized chocolate fountain, The Cellars wine bar from the Mondavi family, the Mandara Spa with 24 treatment rooms including the snow room, a fitness center and casino.
Since the ship is designed for Alaska and Caribbean, the cruise line has tried to give it touches of Seattle and Miami, including a beverage program that features local craft cocktails developed by Seattle-based celebrity mixologist and chef Kathy Casey and Miami-based Gabe Orta, known for the Magic City’s BarLab concepts.
Previous announcement about the ship revealed Broadway hit “Jersey Boys” will headline entertainment offerings along with a Cuban-inspired Broadway-style musical comedy, a new comedy club and nightclub venue called Alibi as well as its own version of a venue that recently debuted on Norwegian Epic — The Cavern Club, which is inspired by the Liverpool club where The Beatles played in the 1960s. Also coming is a theatrical production called “Happy Hour Prohibition — The Musical,” a one-hour performance set in 1919 on the eve of Prohibition that will be put on as a happy hour pre-dinner show and late night adults-only show in the Alibi Comedy and Nightclub.