(10:30 p.m EST) — “Welcome to what it means to be sexy,” smirks Pitbull, remarking on the thick Miami heat hanging over the ceremony for the ship he was about to christen, Norwegian Escape.
The late afternoon event to kick off Escape’s year-round sailings from its homeport of Miami was met with energy and enthusiasm from its leadership team, performances of onboard productions of “After Midnight” and “Million Dollar Quartet”, and emceed by cruise director Julie Valeriote and Froggy of Z100’s “Elvis Duran and the Z Morning Zoo” radio show.
Attended by executives, staff, crew, special guests (including mayor of Miami, Carlos Jimenez), travel partners and media, the christening crowd cooled themselves with Voli vodka (Pitbull’s own brand) fans and bottled drinks from roving Segways as selfie sticks were brandished to capture the party, which included parkour performers.
The ship was blessed not once, but twice — by a rabbi and a priest — before Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, introduced Armando Christian ‘Pitbull’ Perez as “a Miami native but a resident of the world.”
Del Rio joined Pitbull, raised on two platforms in front of a jumbo screen, in christening the ship, and Pitbull couldn’t help but let out his catchphrase “Dale” as Escape was officially christened.
Performing five high-energy songs, godfather Pitbull stressed positivity; turning his life from “a negative to a positive,” is a strong theme in the artist’s music and message. Thanking Norwegian for the “amazing opportunity,” Pitbull amped up the crowd by ending on his hit “Tonight.”
Earlier in the ceremony, Del Rio thanked Bernard Meyer of Meyer Werft shipyard for his team’s work on Escape, which is the first of three ships in the Breakaway Plus Class to be built there. Del Rio’s comments flip-flopped from pride to profit, saying, “Escape exceeds expectations of what a mega-ship can be,” but that it’s also “well-poised to enjoy the dividends from rich growth ahead.”
The first ship to launch since either Del Rio or NCL’s president and CEO Andy Stuart have taken their new positions, Escape is considered a reflection of “leveraging best practices across lines [Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas are also under the NCLH umbrella] to infuse them into our brands,” according to Del Rio, who went on to say, “Garnering the highest yields is the best metric to engage consumer engagement in our brands.”
Stuart took the stage to a huge round of applause from the travel partners, reflecting on his 27 years with the cruise line, thanking the 22,000 Norwegian employees worldwide, and listing some of Escape’s standout features such as its expanded Haven suite complex, massive aqua park and snow grotto in the spa.
“Escape is a symbol of the remarkable growth of our brand,” Stuart said about the line’s largest ship to date. “[It] epitomizes the Norwegian Cruise Line experience.”
Other speakers included Captain Evans Hoyt, who highlighted the hard work of the crew onboard (from 68 different countries) and emphasized the almost-50 years that Norwegian has been sailing the Caribbean. Marine conservationist and hull artist Guy Harvey spoke briefly but enthusiastically about how Norwegian’s Breakaway Plus Class embodies “travel, adventure, education, family values, while spreading a new message of marine conservation and sustainability.” Harvey has his own documentary-style channel on Escape’s cabin televisions.
Norwegian Escape will begin sailing full weeklong cruises to the Eastern Caribbean on November 21.
Norwegian Escape Cruises