CRUISE INDUSTRY

Norwegian Breakaway takes its bow in Manhattan

 

hsampson@MiamiHerald.com

Drawing from New York’s finest — a sampling that included a hot dog stand, Broadway shows and rhinestone-laden Rockettes — Norwegian Cruise Line officially welcomed its newest ship Wednesday in Manhattan.

Miami should consider the fanfare a dress rehearsal. Breakaway’s sister ship, Norwegian Getaway, will launch in January of 2014 and become the largest vessel based year-round in Miami.

The 4,028-passenger Norwegian Breakaway, which cost more than $900 million, will sail from New York City year-round, was christened by the Rockettes as part of a ceremony that lasted more than an hour.

“It’s such an honor for me to bring this magnificent ship to my hometown,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO Kevin Sheehan, a native New Yorker. “I know New Yorkers are tough, but they know what they want and they respect quality. . . . We designed a ship that takes the best elements of New York City and brings it to the sea.”

Those include a restaurant, Ocean Blue, from Food Network chef Geoffrey Zakarian; Broadway shows Rock of Ages and Burn the Floor and Cirque Dreams & Dinner Jungle Fantasy, based on a Broadway production; a ship version of Carlo’s Bake Shop of TLC’s Cake Boss fame; Sabrett hotdog carts and Brooklyn Lager.

Next year’s new ship won’t be an exact replica of New York’s: The hull, for example, will be decorated with a mermaid, palm trees and swirly sun as envisioned by South Florida artist David “LEBO” Le Batard rather than the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline by pop artist Peter Max.

While both ships will offer fireworks on every cruise, a five-slide water park and three-story recreation complex, Norwegian Getaway will have some firsts of its own.

Those include a magic-infused dinner show in a new venue called The Illusionarium and the Grammy Experience, which includes Grammy Museum-chosen artifacts and live performances by past award winners and nominees.

Wednesday’s event was the latest happening in an already busy year for the cruise line, which raised more than $477 million in an initial public offering in January.

On Monday, the company released financial information for the quarter that ended March 31, its first earnings report as a publicly traded company.

While revenue grew to more than $527 million, an increase of more than 2 percent, expenses related to the stock offering and prepayment of debt wiped out any profits.

Norwegian reported a net loss of $96.4 million for the quarter, but said adjusted net income grew from $3.3 million in the first quarter of 2012 to $12.9 million this year. That beat Wall Street expectations and the company’s own projections.

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