Did Someone Steal SpongeBob from New Norwegian Ship?

A great mystery took place at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France, as workers readied the brand new, 4,100-passenger Norwegian Epic cruise ship for its debut. Where was SpongeBob?

Norwegian Cruise Line had earlier signed a deal with Nickelodeon for SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer and other Nick characters to appear on Epic, entertaining kids at character breakfasts and shows and posing for photos.

But as the 153,000-ton ship prepared to sail to Rotterdam, Holland, to take on its first guests for a weekend cruise, SpongeBob - or rather the sizeable costume of the cartoon character – was nowhere to be found.

"SpongeBob went missing for two whole days," Norwegian Executive Vice President Andy Stuart told AOL Travel on the preview cruise.

Officials thought the costume, valued at about $15,000, had been stolen. But then wondered who would do that?

"There are many more valuable things on the ship," Stuart said. "And as far as I know there is no second hand market for SpongeBob costumes."

Eventually SpongeBob did show up, though whether he had actually been removed from the ship or was there the whole time is unclear.

He did make an appearance on the ship's debut sailing for invited guests on Sunday. Said Stuart, "SpongeBob is alive and well on Epic."

Epic debuts in New York next month, before sailing to its homeport of Miami.

Photo courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line
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