FORT LAUDERDALE — Norwegian Cruise Line will advance the deadline for final payment on its cruises from 90 days to 120 days before departure, said Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
Details about which cruises would be subject to the 120-day deadline and when the policy will be implemented are forthcoming.
The move means consumers will have to pay in full faster and is likely a reflection of the strong seller’s market for cruising that developed in 2017. The 120-day deadline already applies to Garden Villa and Haven accommodations.
Del Rio, who revealed the news at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld on Wednesday, told hundreds of travel agents that they will benefit directly from the decision.
“It’s great for both of us,” Del Rio said. “It locks in the customer early. You get your payment 30 days earlier, and it helps you with your cash flow. We think it’s wonderful for our agent community that you get to collect on your hard work 30 days earlier.”
Norwegian Cruise Line established the 90-day deadline in January 2016.
In a Q&A with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann, Del Rio was asked if he wants to acquire any more of the eight former Renaissance Cruises ships for Oceania Cruises, which already has four (Insignia, Regatta, Nautica and Sirena).
Azamara Club Cruises, a competitor owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., recently acquired a third former Renaissance ship (P&O Cruises’ Adonia, to be renamed Azamara Pursuit). Del Rio said he hopes Azamara gets the one remaining (currently sailing for Princess Cruises as the Pacific Princess).
“It won’t be us,” he said. “We’re happy with our four and we’re happy with our Riviera and Marina ships. But the next introduction for Oceania will likely be a whole new concept we’re working on.”
Turning to Cuba, Del Rio said there’s no doubt that the market has rewarded Norwegian’s decision to use its four-day cruise from Miami to provide two full days and an overnight in Havana.
“The booking curve for a four-day cruise now looks more like a seven-day cruise to Alaska or to Europe. People are booking it way in advance, and therefore the prices have risen. It is now profitable for you to sell four-day cruises where it wasn’t before,” Del Rio said.
Norwegian next year will devote a second ship, the Norwegian Sun sailing from Port Canaveral, to a Havana itinerary. “That gives you an idea of how important, how profitable, Cuba is to us,” he said.