December 19, 2002
In this era of ho-hum ship debuts, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ new Dawn really wowed ‘em in New York this week. As noted previously, hotter-than-hot “Sex and the City” actress Kim Cattrall was named “godmother;” what NCL kept secret, however, was that she’d be joined by another -- the Statue of Liberty. Alas, the Statue -- for obvious reasons – couldn’t make the actual event but was represented by video. The New York-themed debut featured everything from the Harlem Boys Choir singing the jazz classic “A Train” (they couldn’t substitute “ship?”) to a performance from Broadway’s “Rent” to -- what would a Big Apple debut be without it? -- a rendering of “New York New York” by a pipe and drum corps. Lucky “guests” at the debut were given Statue of Liberty crowns. Attracting somewhat less notice is what could tactfully be called Norwegian’s Dawn’s first little snag. The line, which clearly wants to position Dawn as its “hip ship,” announced that it would bring “South Beach Sizzle to Sea.” How so? It would host ¡Fuácata! parties -- labeled by no less than The New York Times as Miami’s hottest party trend. In a nutshell, ¡Fuácata! could be described as an eclectic blend of various Latin style dancing, music and foods. Indeed, company president Colin Veitch gushed over the concept in a press release that’s still posted prominently on NCL’s web site: "For those who haven't experienced ¡Fuácata!, they will find what people have learned in South Beach - it's is more than just a party, it's a state-of-mind.” There’s a hitch, however. South Beach organizers of the hip-and-funky concept got wind that their trendy Latin parties would be appearing on cruise ships. They have filed suit in district court, according to a report in the Miami Herald, for trademark infringement. According to the story one of the plaintiffs was quoted as saying ''To me, I was very proud of our night as something that is part of the underground and not something you would expect to have on a cruise ship.” Ouch. But NCL, whose spokeswoman declined to comment on the issue, has bounced back, announcing that Dawn will host “Pachanga” parties instead. ”Pachanga,” the Spanish word for party, will basically represent a take-off on the original ¡Fuácata!, concept, with salsa music and Latin-influenced cuisine -- and cruise entertainment staff hopes the parties will go on all night. “Pachanga” will be a regular feature of the Dawn’s New York-based Bahamas sailings (and will occur during the weekly call at Miami); this itinerary begins May 18.