Norwegian Bliss sets Panama Canal record on inaugural tour

The 168,000gt Norwegian Bliss passed through the Panama Canal's new locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides The 168,000gt Norwegian Bliss passed through the Panama Canal's new locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides

The new Norwegian Bliss has become the largest passenger ship to transit the Panama Canal since the completion of the canal’s expansion project in 2016.

The 168,000gt Norwegian Cruise Line vessel passed through the new set of locks on both the Atlantic and Pacific sides, en route to Los Angeles for arrival on May 25.

'We are very proud to showcase our newest ship and celebrate one more exciting milestone with Norwegian Bliss as the largest passenger ship to transit the new Panama Canal,' NCL president and CEO Andy Stuart said.

Elvis sighting

Norwegian Bliss was introduced stateside at inaugural events in New York and Miami, which will continue in Los Angeles (May 25-27), and Seattle, where the ship will be officially named on May 30 by godfather Elvis Duran.

New York-based radio host Duran came aboard, along with members of the cast from his Z100 morning show, when the ship was in the city. Also present was renowned marine life artist Wyland, who designed the ship’s hull art, titled 'Cruising with the Whales,' and who saw his finished work for the first time since the unveiling in January when he visited Meyer Werft.

Guy Harvey, fellow marine life artist and creator of the hull design for Norwegian Escape, sister of Norwegian Bliss, made a surprise appearance in Miami, and along with Wyland treated guests to a live painting and discussion on the importance of protecting the world’s oceans and its wildlife.

One of most thrilling features of Norwegian Bliss is the 1,000-foot, open-air racetrack, the largest at sea. Alex Vega, Miami-based celebrity car guru from Discovery Channel’s reality television show 'The Auto Firm with Alex Vega' delivered two fully customized electric go-karts on May 8. One sports a metallic royal blue and the other is cherry red. Both are outfitted with leather seats and complementing stitching details as well as sleek design elements.

Alaska, Mexican Riviera, eastern Caribbean

Starting June 2, Norwegian Bliss will begin a season of seven-day Alaska cruises from Seattle with calls at Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, BC. Several Mexican Riviera sailings from Los Angeles follow, before the ship heads to PortMiami for eastern Caribbean service.

In 2019, Norwegian Bliss will return to New York and sail seven-day voyages to the Bahamas and Florida, the southern and western Caribbean. An encore Alaska season follows.

Posted 17 May 2018

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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