A $50million refurbishment of Norwegian Joy has resulted in a stylish, contemporary vessel that sparkles like new, says Liz Jarvis.

Norwegian Joy shows off colourful artwork on its hull
Norwegian Joy stands out thanks to the colourful artwork on its hull

The last time I saw Norwegian Joy was in Germany in 2017, where it had been built at the Meyer Werft shipyard for the Chinese market. Two years later and the ship is refurbished, revitalised and sailing to Alaska this summer.

Twenty-one days in dry dock in Singapore, followed by a five day wet dock in Seattle, has resulted in a redesigned pool deck, an enhanced go kart track, an expanded Observation Lounge and 13 new dining, bar and lounge venues as well as renovated public spaces and concierge-level accommodations. Every carpet has been replaced, every chair reupholstered, and the attention to detail throughout the new look Norwegian Joy is flawless.

the chandelier in Ocean Place as seen on a Norwegian Joy review
The stunning chandelier in Ocean Place

The slightly older sister to Norwegian Bliss (which won Best New Ship at the British Cruise Awards 2018), and now its almost-identical twin, Norwegian Joy has retained its beautiful vibrant Asian-inspired livery, which gives the hull a distinctive appeal among NCL’s fleet.

Norwegian Joy was the first ship to have a racetrack at sea, and now this has been lengthened by 20 metres and has a lane that enables overtaking. Dedicated virtual reality gaming complex Galaxy Pavillion features flight, racing and rollercoaster simulators, interactive dark ride experiences and a racing simulator that uses the body of a Formula One car. The Observation Lounge has been expanded and is now one of the largest in the cruise line’s fleet, offering 180 degree views of the ocean.

full-length windows and lots of seating in the Observation Lounge seen on a Norwegian Joy review
The Observation Lounge

Dining includes NCL favourites such as speciality restaurants Teppanyaki, which offers a superb Japanese hibachi-style dining experience; Cagney’s (fabulous for brunch); and Ocean Blue. These all have the bonus of al fresco space along The Waterfront, where you can find Sugarcane Mojito, too, one of the best bars on the ship. But there are brand new venues too, including American Diner, a 1950s-style open air eatery.

The Aqua Park has two large multi-storey water slides and a double loop water slide that extends 11ft over the side of the ship and dips below the deck nearly 150ft above the water. The sun decks are vast, with ample loungers, two swimming pools, three hot tubs, and a hugely popular jogging/walking track.

All of the spa and fitness areas have been enlarged, too, and the number of treatment rooms has increased. Other enhancements include the replacement of all carpet throughout the ship, which is no mean feat.

Vibe Beach Club on Norwegian Joy review
Vibe Beach Club

There are also new shows on board, including Tony Award® nominated musical Footloose, based on the film that made Kevin Bacon a star, about a Chicago teen who moves to a small town and discovers dancing has been banned; aerial acrobatic performances in Elements; musical comedy and wine tasting show Wine Lover: The Musical; as well as already popular NCL entertainment venues including The Cavern Club, where you can see a Beatles tribute band who are so uncannily like the Fab Four you’ll really believe you’re in Liverpool in the 1960s and end the evening hoarse from singing along to Hey Jude.

With intriguing artwork and clever design touches throughout the ship, the overall vibe is one of relaxed, contemporary elegance. Norwegian Joy is unquestionably one of the most impressive ships in the NCL fleet. 

A Concierge Penthouse suite

GETTING THERE:

A seven-night Alaska cruise on Norwegian Joy starts from £929, based on two sharing, not including flights. For more information call 0333 214 2319 or visit ncl.co.uk.