While it was undoubtedly a patriotic moment for the folks at NCL it must be somewhat tinged with a bit of sadness as well. The first-in-50-years honor was intended to belong to NCL's Pride of America, which, in addition, would also have been the first (partially) American-built cruise ship to launch in half a century. You may recall that during a tempestuous storm in January at that ship's yard in Bremerhaven, it was swamped by water and actually sunk to the (albeit rather shallow) bottom. Repair and salvage has been a significant chore. The latest word is that the work will be completed next summer, though no launch date for Pride of America has been announced.
The ceremony today took place following a significant refurbishment for Norwegian Sky-nee-Pride of Aloha. The 77,000-ton, 2,000-passenger ship will of course feature NCL's signature Freestyle Cruising (anytime, anywhere and with-anyone dining). One of its unique-to-the-fleet additions is Kumu Cultural Center, an area devoted to education and entertainment on Hawaiian culture.
The ship will sail a series of Pacific coast voyages until it transits the Pacific en route to its official July 4 inauguration. At that time, Pride of Aloha's godmother -- Margaret Awamura Inouye, wife of Hawaii Senator Daniel K. Inouye –- will officially induct the ship, in its new incarnation, into the NCL fleet. After that, Pride of Aloha will be sailing regular weeklong roundtrip cruises out of its Honolulu homeport.