(4:45 p.m. EDT) -- It was a celebration of all things New York today at Manhattan's Pier 88, as Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYC-based pop art icon Peter Max and top brass from Norwegian Cruise Line gathered for the next reveal on Norwegian Breakaway, the 144,017-ton, 4,000-passenger ship debuting in May 2013.
The ship, the first of two Project Breakaway vessels, will homeport year-round in the Big Apple, sailing weeklong cruises to Bermuda. (Itineraries for sister ship Norwegian Getaway, which will launch in spring 2014, will be revealed at a later date.)
Pop artist Peter Max, whose omnipresent work has appeared on everything from postage stamps to Grammy Award posters, will design the ship's hull. He called the assignment his "largest canvas ever." Max is creating four designs, from which NCL will make the final selection. "I'm on pins and needles to see what Norwegian will pick," he added. The line's distinctive hull designs -- jewels, flowers, a radiating sun -- have become one of its signature elements.
The event was punctuated by a visit from Bloomberg, who touted the $35 million jolt to the local economy that Breakaway -- which will bring 140,000 cruisers to the city over two years -- will create. "It boils down to one word," said Bloomberg. "Jobs."
Breakaway will become the largest ever year-round New Yorker. Cunard's 151,400-ton Queen Mary 2, which sails frequently from Brooklyn and Manhattan, is larger by volume, but carries only 2,620 passengers at double occupancy. Despite being slightly smaller than QM2, the city will need to adjust the pier and extend the embarkation tunnels to accommodate Breakaway's overhanging lifeboats.
Norwegian has long been a stalwart NYC resident, featuring two ships in the city for a number of years. In 2013, Breakaway will join Norwegian Gem in residency. (Norwegian Pearl, which will be stationed in Manhattan beginning in fall 2012, will move out of New York when Breakaway moves in.)
Though we know little about the ship beyond its accommodations, the line is opening bookings next week. Past passengers can secure a spot on October 14, after which the general public will be allowed to book, beginning October 17.
Norwegian has been revealing a steady stream of information on the Breakaway duo. Last week, the line announced plans for its solo cabin-and-lounge complex. Earlier this summer, it showcased the ships' exclusive suite complex, The Haven, indicating its newly designed bathrooms would eschew the controversial bowl sinks and revealing frosted-glass shower doors that were introduced on Norwegian Epic.
Cruise Critic will be covering every step of the process, from steel cutting to launch. Follow along on our Project Breakaway page.
--by Dan Askin, News Editor, and John Deiner, Managing Editor