Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel
MIAMI — There’s a new drink and famous Puerto Rican musician coming on board the Norwegian Viva set to begin sailing the Caribbean this fall. Both are called “El Padrino.”
That’s Spanish for “The Godfather,” and it is in fact the name of a specialty drink headed to the ship’s Metropolitan Bar dedicated to highlighting reusability. But it’s also the title now for Luis Fonsi, the man behind the hit song “Despacito” as Norwegian Cruise Line teamed up with him to take on the christening duties for the ship when it arrives to Miami in November before spending the winter sailing out of Puerto Rico.
“The fact that San Juan is its homeport is already special, because as a proud Boricua I want people to come to my island,” he said of the honorary role during his introduction at an event held at the Miami Marlins baseball stadium. “I’m always promoting to visit San Juan. We’ve been through a lot, a lot of hurricanes, a lot of crazy things and the fact that this gorgeous, massive, perfect ship can be docked there, I think it’s going to be good for her.”
He’s not the first male to take on what has traditionally been the godmother role, joining the likes of Pitbull, for instance, who was named the godfather of Norwegian Escape in 2015, and more recently Jay Leno named godfather of Carnival Venezia.
New NCL President David J. Herrera said Fonsi was a good fit for the brand combining his celebrity on not just his home island of Puerto Rico, but his role in South Florida.
“Miami, our hometown, is immersed in Latin culture, and we want to celebrate Norwegian Viva’s debut with an infusion of Latin talent headlined by Luis,” Herrera said. “As a native Puerto Rican, who is also based in Miami, he brings people together from around the world with his energy, positivity and music, making him the perfect complement to the vibrant energy of Norwegian Viva.”
Fonsi’s hit ‘Despacito’ spent 16 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 2017, and he’s since won numerous awards and continues to be a powerhouse celebrity for Latin music.
Fonsi spoke about his time living as a child in Orlando and the massive Puerto Rican community there before making Miami his second home as an adult. He praised the spirit of the the community that has been resilient through the recovery since deadly Hurricane Maria in 2017, but also the celebratory spirit of the island’s people.
“I think you guys know how important Puerto Rico is to me, and will always be,” he said. “The fact that I moved when I was 11 from Puerto Rico to Orlando, you would think that you’d get a little distant from your heritage, but it was the other way around. It made me more proud of who I was and where I came from.”
He said the godfather role makes sense to him. noting the ship’s motto is “Live it up.”
“When you say ‘Live it up,’ you automatically transport to the Caribbean, to Latino culture, to us Puerto Ricans. So that just makes it a natural fit,” he said.
Fonsi will perform music on top of hitting the button to release the big bottle of champagne during the christening ceremony at PortMiami on Nov. 28. He’ll be joined by Latin entertainers including singers Paulina Rubio and Pedro Capó plus “Saturday Night Live” cast member and Miami-native Marcello Hernandez.
The ship will make a pair of Miami trips in December and then head to San Juan where it will be based until April before returning to Europe in summer 2024.
Viva is a sister ship to Norwegian Prima, which sails out of Port Canaveral. It’s the second of six planned vessels in the line’s new class of ship. Smaller than the last several ships for the line, Prima and Viva are a combination of familiar touches found on vessels like the Norwegian Escape, Bliss and Encore, but a breakaway from others, particularly in design.
The 142,500-gross-ton ships have a 3,100-passenger capacity based on double occupancy. That’s much smaller compared to the line’s last vessels such as Encore’s 169,116 gross tons and 3,998-passenger capacity.
Just like Prima, the ship will have a three-level go-kart track, a pair of 10-deck twisting dry slides, the Indulge Food Hall market with 11 free cuisine choices on top of the normal buffet.
One of the unique offerings will be Broadway’s “Beetlejuice” on the main stage along with an interactive game show based on “Press Your Luck.”
While not much new detail about Viva’s food program was revealed, NCL’s vice president of food and beverage Wes Cort did dig into details of the ship’s “El Padrino” signature drink named in deference to Fonsi’s godfather role.
It will be served as the ship’s Metropolitan Bar, a venue making its second appearance for the line after debuting on Prima.
Cort said the bar features sustainable cocktails, biodynamic wines and ingredients that might otherwise be thrown in the garbage. That includes taking fruit pulp and turning it into a syrup.
“El Padrino” features Avorza vodka, Aperol, Licor 43, zero-waste pineapple syrup, lime juice, ginger beer and garnished with a dehydrated pineapple. It joins a lineup along with the signature drink from Prima, a rum-based drink called the Primadonna.
“These cocktails are part of our sail and sustain program. They are made with sustainable spirits and zero-waste ingredients,” Cort said.