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Armed with a gun and flanked by two fellow shooters, I was ready for battle.
As the captain of the valiant Red Team, I was tasked with leading my troops swiftly and stealthily around the twists and turns of our battleground: the top deck, open-air Laser Tag Arena onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s 3,804-passenger Norwegian Joy.
But when I suddenly came face to face with an enemy soldier — and his bright blue laser — I realized the jig was up. I raced back to base camp to reload, pausing to high-five my teammate, a fellow cruiser named Boris, along the way.
This 10 p.m. game of laser tag — played 20 decks above the Pacific Ocean somewhere off the coast of Oregon — was a joyous affair, and just one of many activities available to passengers sailing onboard the newly renovated Norwegian Joy.
Last month, Joy — a Breakaway-Plus Class ship that entered service in 2017 — joined sister ship Norwegian Bliss on the U.S. West Coast for year-round sailings to Alaska, the Mexican Riviera and the Panama Canal from Miami and Los Angeles. It spent its first two years serving the Chinese market before undergoing an extensive $50 million renovation that included eliminating high-end shopping venues, casinos, private karaoke rooms and more in favor of amenities favored by Western travelers, such as Pulse Fitness Centre, new dining venues and two onboard Starbucks.
During April’s U.S. inaugural voyage, which sailed from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Los Angeles, passengers had the full run of the ship and use of its dining venues, entertainment and activities.
Here are some of the ship’s top highlights.
Get GoingIn addition to laser tag, Joy’s upper decks (16 through 20) also include a two-level Go-Kart Speedway, a five-hole miniature golf course and an Aqua Park that features a kids’ zone, a double-loop waterslide, a pool and multiple hot tubs. A walk/run track loops around Deck 16 and provides breathtaking ocean views. (I opted for a jog here after two days spent at Pulse Fitness Centre on Deck 17, which, in addition to exercise machines, offers fitness classes such as Pilates and aerobics.)
These outdoor areas are great for kids — in addition to the indoor Splash Academy kids’ club and Entourage Teen Lounge — but grown-up cruisers who want to soak up some sun may prefer the adults-only Vibe Beach Club and Spice H20 areas.
For more outdoor sea-viewing, there’s The Waterfront — a quarter-mile outdoor promenade on Deck 8 — where my partner and I enjoyed a leisurely stroll one morning, bloody mary cocktails in hand. We also spent a fair amount of time in the Observation Lounge on Deck 15, which is home to one of two onboard Starbucks (the other is on Deck 6) and features floor-to-ceiling windows and views off the front of the ship — sure to be spectacular during upcoming Alaska itineraries.
One of the ship’s other top selling points is the Galaxy Pavilion arcade on Deck 16 — a leftover from Joy’s time in China (and not available onboard Bliss). Time flies when spent in a virtual world, whether it’s from zooming through a racetrack in a drone, riding the loops of a virtual roller coaster or speeding away from a Tyrannosaurus rex in a “Jurassic Park” safari-style vehicle.
Luckily, cruisers have the option of winding down just steps away at Mandara Salon & Spa, which offers a variety of treatments including massage, acupuncture, nail and hair services and more.
Down to DineDining onboard Joy is itself an experience; there are a whopping 14 restaurants and 18 bars and lounges from which to choose. Complimentary options include three main dining rooms — Taste and Savor on Deck 6, and The Manhattan Room on Deck 7 — in addition to The Local, which offers pub fare 24 hours per day. But our personal favorite was the buffet at Garden Cafe, whose varied spread incorporates a wide range of global cuisines.
Specialty dining is also plentiful; our favorites included French restaurant Le Bistro, Cagney’s Steakhouse and seafood-heavy Ocean Blue. Other options include Q for barbecue (pro tip: Try the ribs and brisket); La Cucina for a la carte Italian; Food Republic, which serves a fusion of international fare; Teppanyaki; and American Diner, which harks back to 1950s Americana.
If meals don’t result in a food coma, it’s worth it to stay up for Joy’s nightly entertainment, which includes two productions: “Elements,” a fantastical mix of dance and aerial acrobatics; and “Footloose,” a Broadway-style adaptation of the popular 1984 film. The ship also houses late-night bars and lounges that suit every taste, including individual establishments serving whiskey, mojitos, craft beer and more.
Comedy lovers will enjoy the Social Comedy and Night Club, but we preferred to end our nights at The Cavern Club, where a Beatles tribute band — featuring John, Paul, Ringo and George lookalikes — regaled the audience with the band’s classic favorites in a setting with a striking resemblance to the original Cavern Club in Liverpool, England.
Sweet SlumberSeveral accommodation categories are available for passengers, such as The Haven, a private-access, ship-within-a ship concept that includes such impressive digs as the two-bedroom Deluxe Owner’s Suite or the Two-Bedroom Family Villa, both with balconies.
In addition to boasting the most luxurious onboard accommodations, The Haven also features butler and concierge service in addition to its own indoor pool, a sundeck with hot tubs, the two-story forward-facing Horizon Lounge, its own private breakfast venue and The Haven Lounge, perfect for cocktails and light evening bites.
I stayed in the next-highest accommodation tier — a Concierge Villa Suite in the ship’s Concierge Class — which came with its own set of perks, including early embarkation and disembarkation. Other stateroom options include Mini-Suites, Balcony staterooms, Oceanview rooms and Inside cabins.
But no matter what accommodation option clients choose, it’s sure to provide a well-needed respite — especially while recovering after an epic game of laser tag.
The DetailsNorwegian Cruise Linewww.ncl.com