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Norwegian Cruise Line’s first “Breakaway Plus” ship, the 4,200-guest Norwegian Escape, will debut in October with creative new dining and entertainment choices. She will sail a substantial experience of top food and drink from her homeport, Miami.
At a January press event in New York, Drew Madsen, president and chief operating officer of Norwegian, announced a tapas bar and the Bayamo fine dining restaurant, both to be launched by “Iron Chef” and James Beard Award winner, Jose Garces.
Madsen, who is a former restaurant executive, also spoke of a craft beer hall in cooperation with Miami’s Wynwood Brewing Company as well as The Cellars, A Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar with a tasting room and outdoor tables. In another trendy partnership, Pubbelly Restaurant Group will allow diners to sample international flavors in the Food Republic after ordering with iPads.
Bayamo, named after the city where Cuban independence was born, will offer Latin dishes with a strong Cuban influence. Dishes include "bacalao carbonizado,” black cod with a squid ink glaze and chorizo rice, and roasted "berenjenas" (eggplant) with tomato rice and saffron. Live Latin music at a mojito bar will greet guests at the entrance, and Garces will also launch Pincho Tapas Bar on board, where guests can watch preparation of a la carte traditional tapas selections on a plancha grill’s slate slab.
Wynwood Brewing Company, Miami’s first craft production brewery, will not only bring onboard 24 draft beers and 50-plus bottled beers, but also create a specialty beer exclusively for Escape’s District Brew House.
Meanwhile, Miami Beach’s Pubbelly is creating Food Republic, where patrons can sample the world via small plates, with flavors ranging from Asia to Central Europe and the Mediterranean. These include taste explosions such as black truffle-braised, short-rib dumplings. They will be priced a la carte.
Jose Mendin, one of the three partners responsible for Food Republic, has been a semi-finalist for Best Chef South by the James Beard Foundation for three consecutive years and was nominated as People’s Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine.
A new partnership with the four-generation Michael Mondavi Family Wine Bar ensures that wine lovers and those who want to educate themselves will be very happy on Escape. The cellars will be home to tastings and lectures, in addition to 35 grape varietals that include top choices from the Napa Valley Estate.
Andy Stuart, executive vice president of sales, international sales and charters for Norwegian, pointed out that the cruise line pioneered name-brand entertainment partnerships and adventurous entertainment, and the new ship will debut shows including the “Million Dollar Quartet,” based on a single night in 1956 when Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash recorded together in Memphis, Tenn. “Million Dollar Quartet,” which rocked the press event, includes classics from “Blue Suede Shoes” to “Walk the Line.”
Another show, Duke Ellington-based “After Midnight,” the Broadway version of “Cotton Club Parade,” brings spectacular dancing together with great jazz. It opened on Broadway last November and was nominated for seven Tony Awards, winning Best Choreography. The Escape production will echo the Broadway show closely with the original director and choreographer, set and costumes.
Escape’s Supper Club will give audiences a 360-degree experience of “Dear John Hughes,” using music from coming-of-age John Hughes movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “Pretty in Pink.” Created by For the Record in Los Angeles, the show moves into Chicago this year as well.
For the younger set, the Aqua Park is being taken to the next level with a new Aqua Racer slide and entertainment from Nickelodeon, plus the first babies’ nursery, a dedicated facility for children ages 2 and under.
The ship’s two-level Mandara Spa will have a snow room and the largest thermal suite at sea, with 17 heated loungers, a hydrotherapy pool, whirlpools, a steam room, a dry sauna, a salt room and 24 treatment rooms.
Escape will be based year-round in Miami, sailing the Eastern Caribbean after its transatlantic crossing in late October.