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Riding the wave of 16 years of cruising from Seattle, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is bringing the Emerald City the first cruise ship custom-built with features for Alaska cruising. In 2018, Norwegian Bliss — the line’s third BreakawayPlus ship — will make its home in Seattle’s Bell Street Pier Cruise Terminal (Pier 66), where NCL is partnering with the port to upgrade facilities. The 4,000-passenger ship will be the largest vessel in the Alaska market.
The new 15-year lease includes a $30 million commitment in partnership between NCL parent company Norwegian Cruise Holdings Ltd. and the Port of Seattle to add elements to the terminal that include two elevated boarding bridges to improve embarkation, a 300 percent expansion of guest check-in space and a new VIP lounge with panoramic views of Elliot Bay.
“NCL was the first cruise line to begin cruising to Alaska from Seattle in 2000, and it’s only fitting that we bring our newest ship, Norwegian Bliss, directly to this incredible location,” said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of NCL, at a ceremony in Seattle. “Alaska is one of the top destinations for our guests to explore, and we are thrilled to be the first cruise line to offer our guests the opportunity to experience this coveted destination onboard a brand-new, state-of-the-art cruise ship custom designed for Alaska, the first of its kind to ever debut in Seattle.”
The Panama Canal’s new lock system makes it possible for ships of Bliss’ size to sail through the canal rather than having to go around South America. The vessel will make the transit in spring 2018, cruising up the West Coast for the Alaska season, where it will sail seven-day cruises departing on Saturdays. Port calls include Ketchikan, Juneau and Skagway in Alaska, as well as Victoria, British Columbia, along with scenic glacier cruising. The books will open this January.