(2:05 p.m. EDT) -- Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Cruise Line's third Breakaway-Plus-class ship and the first custom-built for sightseeing in Alaska, has begun its journey along the River Ems from the Meyer Werft shipyard in Germany. It is scheduled to arrive tonight in Eemshaven, the Netherlands, where it will take on additional provisions and crew members, before heading to the North Sea for sea trials.
The line is scheduled to take delivery of Norwegian Bliss on April 19 in Bremerhaven, Germany.
Measuring 994 feet long and 136 feet wide, the ship passed through the shipyard's sea lock with less than four feet of clearance, a maneuver that took two hours to accomplish at a speed of only 0.2 knots.
"Today marks another historical moment for Norwegian Bliss, the most highly anticipated ship of the Norwegian Breakaway Plus class, the most successful class of our company's history," said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.
Norwegian Bliss will spend its first summer sailing weeklong Alaska itineraries from its homeport of Seattle. In fall 2018, it will offer a series of three Pacific Coastal, Mexico and Panama Canal voyages before arriving at its winter homeport of Miami, from which it will offer seven-night Eastern Caribbean sailings.
Highlights of the ship include a 20,000-square-foot Observation Lounge that spans the entire forward section of the ship, offering unparalleled 180-degree views; the largest go-kart racetrack at sea, which is 40 percent bigger than the track on sister ship Norwegian Joy; The Waterfront area with 13 restaurants and bars; and a new cabin category for solo travelers featuring 82 inside staterooms with virtual ocean views.
--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor