From sultry dancers to hot Latin rhythms by Tito Puente Jr., from pom-pom moves by the Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders to an energetic performance by Latin Grammy winning recording artist Pitbull, the christening ceremony for the new Norwegian Getaway at PortMiami Friday showcased the best of South Florida’s spirit, energy and talent.
“She’s Miami’s ultimate ship…muy caliente (or “very hot” in Spanish),” Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line told the crowd, also stressing that Miami itself shines with energy, music and dance. While the 145,645-ton ship served as the Bud Light venue for the Super Bowl just a week ago, “we couldn’t wait to have her here in her new home,” said Sheehan.
Now sailing year-round to the Caribbean from Miami, the new 3,969-passenger ship boasts brightly colored mermaid hull artwork created by South Florida-based David “Lebo” Le Batard, a Cuban-American artist. “He’s done a great job in capturing the Miami spirit,” Sheehan told the crowd of VIPs, travel partners and news media attending the christening.
During the christening show, entertainers from the ship’s “Burn the Floor” production show delivered some of their sultry, salsa and cha-cha moves on stage. Sheehan also told the crowd about new Latin themed dining and bar venues, including Flamingo Bar and Grill, the Tropicana Room restaurant, the Sunset Bar and Sugarcane Mojito, a bar serving up Miami’s signature drink and other tropical libations.
Belting out the National Anthem at the christening was 12-year-old Julia Dale, well-known locally for singing the same song at the Miami Heat’s NBA games. Brooke Burke Charvet, well-known to network television viewers as co-host of “Dancing with the Stars,” served as master of ceremonies and noted she had some experience with Norwegian and its ships as the godmother of Norwegian Sun.
VIPs attending included Le Batard, “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro, whose Carlo’s Bake Shop is on the ship, and celebrity chef Geoffrey “Iron Chef” Zakarian, who operates three venues onboard — Ocean Blue, an upscale seafood restaurant; the Raw Bar; and Ocean Blue on the Waterfront.
Also present at the event were several of Norwegian’s board members, PortMiami’s seaport director designee Juan Kuryla and Miami-Dade County commissioner Rebecca Sosa, who proclaimed the day as “Norwegian Getaway Day.”
But the absolute piece-de-resistance of the christening was the energetic performance of Armando Christian Perez, a Miami native, rapper and Latin Grammy-winning recording artist known as Pitbull. He had the crowd on their feet, clapping, swaying, singing and dancing, and the performance culiminated with bursts of smoke, confetti and fireworks.
Captain Rune Myre, the ship’s master, spoke briefly and credited the genius of the craftsmen at Meyer Werft, the shipyard at Papenburg, Germany. Sheehan also recognized Bernard Meyer, the shipyard’s chairman who was seated in the audience. Sheehan praised the long-time shipbuilding heritage of the Meyer family, noting that the ship was delivered a month early.
What’s New With the Ship
Norwegian Getaway is the largest cruise ship ever home ported at PortMiami, Sheehan said, stressing that Norwegian is the company that actually began the tradition of South Florida cruising from Miami in the mid-1960s with Sunward.
He also noted that while the line has four ships in port seasonally, Norwegian Getaway becomes the line’s first year-round Miami product in more than a decade. The ship will sail seven-night cruises to the Caribbean, visiting St. Maarten, St. Thomas, U.S.V.I, and Nassau in the Bahamas, with three days at sea.
What’s new onboard for cruisers? One differentiator is the new 275-seat Illusionarium, a dinner theater experience where magic is the star. Illusions are created by a half dozen talented magicians. Without giving away the tale, let’s just say this orangish-red and gold venue resembles an illusionist’s parlor from the 1880s.
It definitely looks the part with props, staging and lighting techniques, along with pseudo fog coming rising from the floor. The illusions are mind-boggling, the show quite theatrical and guests receive a three-course meal during the action. The cost is $39 per person. Reservations are a “must.”
Also new on this ship is “Legally Blonde: The Musical,” as well as a multi-story ropes course and the largest water park at sea with five full-size, colorful slides. The Kids’ Aqua Park with Nickelodeon characters is similar to that on Norwegian Breakaway, but a new twist is the pirate theming.
However, this venue is also a great place to peruse anytime, as it displays colorful costumes from such entertainers as the Jackson Five, Whitney Houston, L. L. Cool J, Edgar Winter and others.
In his remarks, Sheehan described the ship’s launch as the latest step in the line’s journey over the past years to drive what’s become the new Norwegian Cruise Line. “Our success lies not just in hardware, but it lies in people,” he said, praising the line’s 25,000 crew members all over the world.
In a fitting tribute, a sampling of Norwegian Getaway crew members – stateroom stewards to cooks, maintenance engineers to ship’s officers, entertainers to purser’s desk staff – paraded into the christening ceremony.
Norwegian now serves more than 1.5 million passengers annually, Sheehan said, noting that it’s “on the way to two million.” He credited all the line’s travel partners — with Bill Smith of Virtuoso, Michelle Fee of Cruise Planners and Van Anderson of Avoya Travel among those in the audience — saying: “Thanks for being Norwegian’s best advocate.”