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Norwegian Breakaway to draw entertainment from Broadway

With its next ship based in New York City, Norwegian Cruise Line is giving regards to Broadway — times three.

Norwegian Breakaway, set to debut in April 2013, will feature three shows that have appeared on Broadway: the 80’s music bash Rock of Ages, ballroom showcase Burn the Floor and the circus-without-animals spectacle Cirque Dreams Dinner & Jungle Fantasy.

The Miami-based company announced the entertainment news, along with its first celebrity chef partnership, Thursday night in Manhattan.

“I’m an avid New Yorker,” Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan said in a phone interview Thursday. “This is my town. I want to make sure that we make such a splash with the New York market that Norwegian Cruise Line forever owns the New York market.”

He said the cruise line is licensing Rock of Ages; Burn the Floor and Cirque Dreams will be adapted by their original producers for the ship. The dinner show will carry an additional fee, but the other shows will be included in the cruise fare.

Other entertainment announced Thursday includes The Second City comedy troupe, dueling piano show Howl at the Moon and New Yorker Slam Allen, who currently performs on Norwegian Epic.

Norwegian has prided itself on pioneering “freestyle” cruising, giving passengers a variety of dining options rather than set times for dinner in assigned seats, but has not catered to foodies with big-name chefs like some competitors.

That will change with Breakaway and its sister Getaway, which will home port year-round in Miami after its launch in 2014. Both will feature a seafood restaurant, Ocean Blue, designed by Food Network star (and recent Next Iron Chef winner) Geoffrey Zakarian. The restaurant, which will not be included in the price of the cruise, will also include The Raw Bar and the more casual Ocean Blue on the Waterfront.

Zakarian’s restaurant empire includes The Lambs Club and The National in New York City and Tudor House in Miami Beach.

“We wanted to go big-time here with a fantastic chef that’s got a really, really good reputation,” Sheehan said. “With Breakaway and Getaway, there’s nobody better.”

The chef will also sail on some cruises, mingle with passengers and offer cooking demonstrations.

Royal Caribbean paired with Miami’s Michael Schwartz last year, while Carnival tapped Food Network star Guy Fieri to come up with a burger restaurant. French chef Jacques Pepin opened a restaurant on Oceania’s upscale Marina, and other luxury lines have star chef partners as well.

Norwegian has previously announced other new features for Breakaway, including an outdoor boardwalk area, five-slide water park and elaborate recreation zone.

Said Sheehan: “Hopefully these are the things you do to differentiate your product.”