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Norwegian Gem

Norwegian Cruise Line News: Norwegian Gem Will Sail From Jacksonville in 2025

Norwegian Gem
Jorge Oliver
Colleen McDaniel

Last updated
Feb 6, 2024

Read time
5 min read

(February 6, 2024) -- Starting next year, Norwegian Cruise Line will add one more Floridian city to its list of embarkation ports by sailing out of Jacksonville's cruise port (JaxPort).

Norwegian Gem will arrive at JaxPort in November 2025, marking the first time an NCL ship homeports in the northeast Florida port. The 2,394-passenger vessel will be based in Jacksonville from November to April every year until 2028.

The announcement comes after the JaxPort board of directors approved a four year agreement with the cruise line. Norwegian Cruise Line will join Carnival as the second mainstream cruise line to sail out of Jacksonville, as Carnival Elation homeports year-round from JaxPort.

“Today marks a new milestone in the relationship between Norwegian Cruise Line and JaxPort” said David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line. “We look forward to Norwegian Gem’s arrival to Jacksonville in November 2025, and welcoming guests from the area, as well as neighboring cities and states, on board to deliver them an exceptional vacation.”

The cruise line highlighted that Jacksonville is a growing drive-to cruise market, with more than 98 million people living within driving distance to the cruise port.

“Expanding our popular cruise program provides passengers throughout the Southeast U.S. and beyond with even more reasons to choose Jacksonville for their next vacation,” said JaxPort CEO Eric Green.

Once in JaxPort, Norwegian Gem will offer three 12-day and two 11-day roundtrip sailings to the Eastern Caribbean each year. The voyages will call in ports like Great Stirrup Cay, NCLs private island in the Bahamas; Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic; St. Thomas; St. John's; St. Kitts; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Antigua, among others. The ship will also embark on a four- to five-day cruises to The Bahamas, with stops in Great Stirrup Cay, Freeport and Nassau.

Norwegian Gem currently homeports in Miami during winter and Boston in the summer.

--Jorge Oliver, Editor

Indulge Food Hall is a Hit on Norwegian Viva

Norwegian Cruise Line CEO David Herrera speaks at the christening for Norwegian Viva. (Photo: NCL)

(December 5, 2023) -- Norwegian Viva made its U.S. debut last week, sailing its first itinerary from Miami before it repositions seasonally to homeport out of Puerto Rico.

To welcome the ship, Norwegian Cruise Line hosted executives, media (including Cruise Critic), partners and travel agents on a short preview sailing in celebration of the newest ship in the fleet.

Norwegian Viva is nearly identical to fleetmate Norwegian Prima, which debuted in 2022, winning a Cruise Critic's Editors' Picks award for best new ship of the year.

While there are subtle changes between the two ships, the most obvious difference is Indulge Food Hall, an included restaurant that brings the popular land-based food hall concept to the seas. It was wildly popular on Prima, and seating is always a challenge.

On Viva, Norwegian removed Coco's, the Starbucks kiosk (there's a large Starbucks in the atrium) and moved the ice cream venue outside, creating more seats and space.

Cruise line President David Herrera said the venue is a fan favorite and cruisers can expect the space to show up on the rest of the Prima Class, including Norwegian Aqua, which debuts in 2025.

When asked if NCL might roll out Indulge to existing ships, Herrera rule it out completely but said the space requirement the restaurant needs would make it difficult to retrofit.

"The square footage commitment that an indulge would be, it would probably come at a pretty heavy cost," he said. " So it's not likely that we'll be able to replicate it."

He did, however, indicate NCL could take some of the learnings it's gained from how Indulge has performed and look to bring new offerings to older ships.

-- Colleen McDaniel, Editor in Chief

Latin Superstar Luis Fonsi Christens Norwegian Viva

Latin star Luis Fonsi performs at the christening event for Norwegian Viva. (Photo: NCL)

(December 5, 2023) -- While Norwegian Viva has been sailing since August, the ship wasn't christened right out of the dock.

Consider that pivotal step in a cruise ship's life accomplished.

In front of NCL executives, travel advisers, media and crew, singer/songwriter Luis Fonsi christened the ship November 28 at Norwegian's expansive cruise terminal in PortMiami. The "Despacito" singer served as the ship's godfather, saying the traditional blessing and pressing a large button that sent a giant bottle of Champagne careening into the ship's hull.

Fonsi later performed in the ship's Viva Theater, while Mexican singer, songwriter and TV personality Paulina Rubio performed on the pool deck, singer and actor Pedro Capo performed in the Penrose Atrium and Saturday Night Live comedian Marcello Hernandez performed at the Improv club.

Ship christenings or naming ceremonies are a maritime tradition thought to bring luck to those onboard. While godmothers are the tradition, NCL broke the mold in 2015 when it named megastar Pitbull the godfather of Norwegian Escape. Since then, several men -- and even families -- have done the cruise-ship naming duties.

-- Colleen McDaniel, Editor in Chief

Beetlejuice Brings Fun, Laughs to Viva Entertainment Lineup

Norwegian Viva offers Beetlejuice: The Musical as one entertainment option. (Photo: Matthew Murphy)

(December 5, 2023) -- As part of the inaugural U.S. sailing, Cruise Critic had a chance to take in Beetlejuice The Musical.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a long history of bringing Broadway and the West End to its ships, and Beetlejuice is the latest on a list that includes Kinky Boots and Grease, among others.

Beetlejuice is a surprisingly entertaining romp that blends some nostalgia for Gen Xers who fondly remember the 1988 film with angst and a songbook that touches on everything from grunge to pop for younger fans.

It's hilarious, more than a little cheeky and mostly entertaining. But it's definitely not a family show. We laughed hard -- real tears came out -- at some of the raunchy, fourth-wall breaking humor and fully appreciated the jokes about cruise drinks packages and guests in NCL's The Haven suite complex.

Beetlejuice fits in perfectly with the NCL vibe, but leave the kids in the cabin and catch a late viewing.

-- Colleen McDaniel, Editor in Chief

Publish date December 05, 2023
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