Travel advisors: Norwegian ship a Joy to behold

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Agency executives were unanimous in their acclaim for The Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line's luxury enclave.
Agency executives were unanimous in their acclaim for The Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line's luxury enclave.

Travel agency executives who sailed on a preview cruise of the Norwegian Joy, recently returned to the U.S. from China, were impressed with the ship's features, which they said would be appealing in its new market, Alaska.

They were unanimous in their acclaim for The Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line's luxury enclave. On the Joy, The Haven has a two-deck glass observation lounge for viewing Alaska scenery.

"It's like living at the lounge level or the club level at a luxury hotel," said Scott Davis, vice president of cruise and tour operations at Altour. "It's a nice place to go just to relax. The restaurant in The Haven was outstanding. The food was excellent. The service was excellent, they remembered your name."

Davis also said he was surprised by the entertainment. He saw Elements, a Cirque du Soleil-style show that "from the description sounded OK. Once we saw it, we were thrilled. It was outstanding."

Scott Koepf, Cruise Planners' vice president of strategic development, also was happy with the shows. He described Elements as "incredibly well produced and a great use of the theater itself."

He said Norwegian gets better and better at its Broadway-style shows, which on Joy included "Footloose."

French specialty restaurant Le Bistro on the Norwegian Joy.
French specialty restaurant Le Bistro on the Norwegian Joy.

"Their entertainment is certainly at the top of the class of cruise lines providing entertainment these days," said Koepf, who also said he had an "excellent" meal at Ocean Blue, the Joy's flagship gourmet dining venue.

Like several other executives, Avoya Travel co-president Jeff Anderson wanted to see the Beatles act at Cavern Club, but he couldn't get in because it was too packed. 

"That was the only thing we really wanted to do that we couldn't fit into," he said. "It was super popular."

Anderson said a meal in the French specialty restaurant Le Bistro for a table of 14 came off without a hitch. 

"Being able to train people to serve us simultaneously, the attention to detail was incredible," he said.

Although he doesn't often recall what he ate on a ship, Anderson remembers that the veal medallions and French onion soup were outstanding.

Another plus for Anderson was the art, which was distributed throughout the ship but never made him feel as if he were in a museum. 

"If the art wasn't tasteful and didn't work within the environment, then everyone would notice," Anderson said.

Koepf observed that the art on Norwegian Joy had a lot of "texture" to it: "very 3-D, and it really made it enjoyable to really look and pay attention to the art on that ship."

The Joy was originally designed for the Chinese market but was brought to Alaska and given a $50 million transformation. It will now sail in Alaska with its sister ship, the Norwegian Bliss. 

Dustin Jones, vice president of engagement for Dream Vacations, CruiseOne and Cruises Inc., said, "Between the Bliss and the Joy, there are definitely two great options for an Alaska cruise on Norwegian."

Jones added: "While very similar to the Bliss, there are just enough new and unique amenities, like the American Diner restaurant, the Virtual Reality experience and Footloose, that create a new and unique experience, so even experienced Norwegian cruisers can enjoy something different and exciting."

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