Norwegian Joy

(8:40 a.m. AEST) -- Norwegian Jewel and Norwegian Jade will be based in Australia, New Zealand and Asia for the 2019/2020 season, Norwegian Cruise Line announced today. It will be Jewel's third season sailing from Sydney, Auckland, Honolulu, Papeete, Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo (Yokohama) but a first for the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Jade, which is set to cruise throughout Southeast Asia departing from Singapore and Hong Kong. Port of call highlights include Phuket, Langkawi, Penang, Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) and Ha Long Bay.

The deployment of Norwegian Jewel and Jade to the region is aimed "to take full advantage of the flourishing source market in Australia, which remains the world’s highest-penetrated cruise market and one of its most desirable destinations", the company said in a statement.

The line also revealed a slew of other adjustments to its previously announced 2019 and 2020 itineraries. Norwegian Joy -- the line's China-based Breakaway-Plus class ship -- will join fleetmate Norwegian Bliss in offering cruises to Alaska. Joy will homeport in Seattle and sail seven-night Alaska cruises -- the same itineraries as Norwegian Bliss, which launched in 2018 as the line's first ship purpose-built for Alaska. Joy is the line's second-newest ship after Bliss; it debuted March 2017 and has since been cruising out of Shanghai.

Prior to its arrival in Seattle, Norwegian Joy will undergo an extensive $50 million refurbishment to make it more like Norwegian Bliss. (Norwegian Joy initially was designed specifically for Chinese cruisers, and includes a handful of features geared toward that market.) Replacing Joy in China is Norwegian Spirit, which also will be refurbished before arrival.

Additionally, the line continues to increase its cruise offerings in Europe. Norwegian Pearl will reposition to Amsterdam, becoming the line's sixth ship in the region. Details of its itineraries have yet to be revealed, but we do know the ship will offer pre- and post-cruise packages, giving cruisers more time to explore on land.

As for the line's highly anticipated Norwegian Encore, due next year, it's still slated to sail the Eastern Caribbean during its inaugural season. The new ship's future itineraries will be revealed before the end of this year.

--By Gina Kramer, Editor