(6:15 p.m. EST) -- Norwegian Joy has officially arrived in North America, after a massive $50 million renovation. The ship, which had been based in Asia since it launched in 2017, will sail two preview cruises for cruise media and travel agents between April 26 and April 30, before departing on its first Alaska sailing from Seattle on May 4. It joins sister ship Norwegian Bliss, as well as fleetmate Norwegian Jewel, the line's other two Alaska-based ships.
"We are so happy to bring Norwegian Joy to North America to sail alongside her sister ship, Norwegian Bliss," said Norwegian Cruise Line president and CEO Andy Stuart. "These preview cruises will allow us to properly showcase this innovative ship to members of the media as well as our travel partners, who will experience firsthand how incredible she is."
The refurbishment saw a number of different enhancements made to the ship, including the swapping out of several restaurants that had been created specifically for the Chinese market for popular Norwegian Cruise Line favorites including Le Bistro, Q, La Cucina, Food Republic and Teppanyaki. The onboard go-kart track, the first ever at sea, also was enhanced.
Though a sister ship to Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy does differ in a few notable ways. First and foremost, Joy has the Galaxy Pavilion, a virtual reality arcade with several simulator rides (hang gliding, race car, Star Wars pod racer, etc). Additionally, only Norwegian Joy has Concierge Class cabins, which come with 24/7 concierge services and a private dining room. Tony Award-nominated musical "Footloose" also will headline the ship's main theater.
After its Alaska sailing has completed in the fall, Norwegian Joy will offer Panama Canal sailings in October, followed by weekly sailings to the Mexican Riviera in November. In 2021, the ship will move to the East Coast, homeporting in New York City beginning in April and sailing seven-night Bermuda and five-night Canada and New England trips.
Cruise Critic will be onboard the media preview sailing departing tomorrow. Stay tuned for our first impressions, and follow our social media channels for photos.