Norwegian Cruise Line will pull its year-old Norwegian Joy from the China market starting in spring 2019, sending it to Alaska to sail with the new Norwegian Bliss.

The move was attributed to a desire "to leverage the strong global demand environment in highly sought-after destinations." 

Norwegian won't leave China entirely. It said the Norwegian Spirit will sail seasonally there beginning in the summer of 2020.

Still, the permanent relocation of the 3,883-passenger Joy to the U.S. West Coast is a retreat from a year-round commitment to China and a boon to travel agents in Western states. The switch will mirror Carnival Cruise Line's commitment to keep its new Carnival Panorama in Long Beach year-round after it arrives in late 2019.

Norwegian said prior to its arrival in Seattle in April 2019, the Joy will get $50 million in upgrades to make its designs and offerings virtually identical to those of its sister ship, the Bliss.  The Joy was tailored to the Chinese market with more space for shopping and its name spelled out in Chinese characters on the bow, among other things.

Pairing the Joy and Bliss will put Norwegian's two biggest, most modern ships, in Alaska for the 2019 summer, and the only two ships in North America to have go-kart racing tracks. The new Joy itineraries open for sale July 24.

Following her inaugural Alaska season, the Joy will sail to Los Angeles for a season of Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal voyages in winter 2019-2020.

As the Joy enters the Alaska market in summer 2019, the 2,400 passenger Norwegian Pearl will deploy to Europe.

The Norwegian Jewel, which will be refurbished this fall, will return to Australia/New Zealand, Asia and the South Pacific for a third year of seasonal cruises from Honolulu, Papeete, Sydney, Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo (Yokohama), while the Norwegian Jade will offer a season of sailings throughout Southeast Asia departing from Singapore and Hong Kong in winter 2019-2020.

Norwegian said those moves were "aimed to take full advantage of the flourishing source market in Australia."

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