Speaking onboard the Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings President and CEO Frank Del Rio said the company could not leave room for mistakes in 2017 when it dedicates its next newbuild to the Chinese market.

“The China vessel is important to us, representing 8 percent of capacity,” Del Rio said. “There is no margin for error and we have to execute flawlessly.”

Del Rio said Norwegian could learn from other companies making missteps in the Chinese market.

“Today I believe there is no product made specifically for the Chinese market,” he continued. “They begrudgingly go on other ships, so wait until our ships go there; it will be a game changer.”

The ship will be designed specifically for the Chinese market, and on the technical side, feature a higher service speed for longer sailing distances.

With the 2017 ship dedicated to China, the 2018 Breakaway-plus class newbuild will be dedicated to North American market. Expect this ship to get the Norwegian Bliss name that was previously reserved for the China-dedicated build.

With a premium-feeling new ship in the Escape, Norwegian is operating on the top tier of the mass market space in the cruise industry.

“Norwegian is going to deliver a high-quality product in the mainstream category,” Del Rio noted.

Speaking on Cuba, Del Rio said there was no news to report, adding that itineraries were ready to go and when it happens, deployment will most likely be with an Oceania R-class ship.

On the Escape, the focus from the Norwegian brand has been on food, said President Andy Stuart.

“678 Ocean Place is the heart of the ship, in the evening that’s where everything happens,” he commented. Spanning three decks, the area includes bar after bar and a multitude of trendy alternative dining spots.

A few floors up, a number of water slides and adventurous looking ropes course will cater to families. Even with a large vessel, Stuart said the water slides could handle 1,000 passengers per hour.