Norwegian Cruise Line and Meyer Werft celebrated the keel laying ceremony today in Papenburg for the new Norwegian Joy, set to launch in the Chinese market in summer of 2017.

During the ceremony, the first of 80 blocks that will comprise the 168,800-tonvessel was lifted into the covered building hall, officially marking the start of the ship’s assembly. Norwegian Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. executives were present in the hall and laid the traditional “lucky coin,” before the first block, weighing 680 tons, was placed by a massive crane.

“We are absolutely thrilled to celebrate the Keel Laying for Norwegian Joy today with our partners at MEYER WERFT,” said Norwegian Cruise Line President and Chief Operating Officer Andy Stuart. “Norwegian Joy is yet another evolution for Norwegian Cruise Line and we know the outstanding work of the teams at MEYER WERFT will truly make her a first class vessel.”

A special commemorative coin featuring the ship was created to celebrate the day’s activities. In a ceremony held at the XingTian Temple at Fang Ta Park in Shanghai on March 31, 2016, NCLH China executives gathered for a traditional prayer and pledge ceremony to the Chinese Goddess of the sea, Mazu, to bring blessings to the coins, the ship and all of the guests who sail on her.  The same coin was then placed under the block during the ceremony.

“We are carefully designing every element of Norwegian Joy, from her VIP accommodations to gourmet dining venues, outstanding recreation and entertainment choices and family-friendly features, to create a First Class at Sea experience that is completely focused on exceeding the expectations of our Chinese guests,” said NCLH China President David Herrera.

In addition to the ceremony, Norwegian Cruise Line also announced the appointment of David Herrera as President, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. Previously Senior Vice President Strategy and Business Development for NCLH, David will assume new responsibilities for the sales, marketing, public relations and operations for all three brands within the NCLH portfolio in his new role. To lead the launch efforts for Norwegian Joy, Mr. Herrera, his wife Patty and their three young sons will be relocating to Shanghai this summer.

“David is building an incredible team of talented individuals in China who are committed to making the launch of Norwegian Joy a resounding success, and that dedication starts at the top,” said Harry Sommer, NCLH executive vice president for International Business and Operations. “It was abundantly clear that David’s involvement in our China efforts since 2012, as well as his enthusiasm and passion, made him the right person to lead the team on the ground in Shanghai and we are so pleased to have him in this new role.”