Cruise ship spells "Joy" with onboard race track and bumper hovercraft

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The Norwegian Joy is being readied for Summer 2017

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The world of luxury cruise ships strikes us as one of unfettered oneupmanship. Do you really need (even want) to shoot down a zip line in the middle of the ocean or sip drinks served up by a robo bartender? No, but such features sure seem compelling when you're browsing cruise line websites. Norwegian Cruise Line has raised the bar for outlandish cruise offerings yet again. Its recently announced China-bound "Joy" cruise ship will entertain with a two-level race track, multi-story water park, high-tech arcade, and bumper hovercraft arena.

Norwegian calls the Joy ship its most innovative and luxurious ship ever, and even if we were really itching to argue, it'd be hard to make a case against the stack of evidence. Exhibit A, of course, is the two-level race track.

Racing is not an entirely new concept to the cruise ship market, but usually it's handled by simulators; Norwegian says that the Joy's race track will be the first to venture out to sea. We've seen cruise ships with ice skating, simulated skydiving and other unlikely activities, so why should all that ocean get in the way of racing cars?

"Cars" is definitely too strong a term in this case, as the rendering of the Joy's track clearly show we're talking go-karts. Still, racing go-karts head to head with friends, family members and fellow passengers should be a fun way to spend a sunny day out at sea. And that track would look impressive at a boardwalk amusement park, let alone riding aboard a ship.

If racing isn't your thing, the Joy will have no shortage of entertainment alternatives, and the Galaxy Pavilion promises to rival the race track in terms of intriguing offerings. The high-tech arcade will offer Oculus virtual reality experiences, dark ride simulators, an interactive race car-turned-simulator, flight simulators and bumper hovercraft. The pavilion will also include a Star Wars game and six Xbox stations.

"Joy riders" will also have access to an open-air laser tag arena and two multi-story water slides. The Double Aqua Loop free fall slide will include a loop winding off the side of the ship, while the Aqua Racer will continue the ship's racing theme, letting two guests compete on inner tubes down 360 feet (110 m) of twisting, splashy slide.

We assume some folks still go on cruises to relax - or at least need to bring their pulses down from all the wild activities. They will be able to enjoy quiet and tranquility in the Joy's top deck open park and browse offerings in the luxury retail space, which will offer everything from duty-free goods, to clothing, to electronics. There will also be three full-service casinos.

The ship will include The Haven, a private luxury complex for VIP types with 74 large suites, an enclosed courtyard with pool, an observation deck with 180-degree views, a private restaurant, personal butler service and a dedicated concierge.

Beyond those major selling points, Norwegian says there will be a mix of mini-suite, balcony, ocean-view and interior staterooms, along with the fastest bow-to-stern Wi-Fi network in its fleet. It promises an east-meets-west experience, where the western cruise vacation blends with the "comforts and preferences that Chinese guests expect."

The Joy is being built by the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and will officially launch in Summer 2017, sailing from Beijing and Shanghai. You can see a little more about it in the short video teaser below.

View gallery - 14 images

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