Norwegian has no plans to reduce China service, Del Rio says

Norwegian Joy
It’s full speed ahead in China for Norwegian Cruise Line.

Despite recent announcements by other lines that ships once scheduled for year-round service in China would move to Australia for part of the year, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings chairman Frank Del Rio said his company has no plans to follow suit.

“I’m glad to see that the others are leaving,” Del Rio said. “That leaves us perhaps the last man standing, and that’d be great. I’ll take all the demand.”

Del Rio’s comments came during a conference call with analysts to discuss first-quarter financial results.

Cruise selling in China has been disrupted since March by the Chinese government’s move to halt travel to South Korea, a protest of a decision by the South Korean government to install a U.S.-made missile defense system.

“The disruption caused travel agents to be distracted from focusing on contracting charters further out into the year, then trying to book, in some cases rebook, [and] find new customers [for those] who no longer wanted to go on sailings that didn’t include Korea,” Del Rio said. “But it’s also had a bit of a chilling effect on overall demand.”

He added that sales for new cruises had started to pick up in the past two weeks. “The South Korea situation, we believe, is a temporary bump in the road, and time will tell,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line is scheduled to start sailing the 3,883-passenger Norwegian Joy, its first ship custom-designed for the Chinese market, from Shanghai in late June.

Princess Cruises recently said that its Majestic Princess, also custom-built for the Chinese market, will be deployed to Australia for six months in 2018-19. The move follows the redeployment of the Sapphire Princess from China to Europe in the latter half of 2018.

Because Norwegian is new to the Chinese source market, Del Rio said he’s being cautious about predicting the impact of the Norwegian Joy on the company’s performance in the second half.

“So in many ways, all the good things that I have to say about how our business is operating on the other 24 ships is being somewhat tempered by the potential that could arise in China,” Del Rio said.

A strong Wave

Del Rio said on the call that this year’s Wave was “the best Wave season that we and likely the industry has experienced in quite some time.” As a result, NCLH brands have fewer cabins to sell for the rest of 2017, and it expects higher prices on those bookings than last year.

NCLH, which also includes Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, posted Q1 net income of $61.9 million, compared with $73.2 million a year earlier. Revenue rose 6.8%, to a record $1.15 billion.

Del Rio attributed the net-income decline to higher-than-expected maintenance and repair costs, particularly for the Norwegian Star, which broke down in Australia for five days in February.

Outside of that, CFO Wendy Beck said the results were driven by “strong close-in demand in the Caribbean, coupled with strength in onboard revenue.” Cuba itineraries are now available on all three brands, and “the performance of that itinerary is just astonishing,” Del Rio said. NCLH is also doing better than it planned in Europe this year, which Del Rio attributed to a combination of less inventory to sell than at the same time last year and positive market conditions. “That is resulting in very, very strong sales in Europe at significantly higher prices than the same time last year,” he said.

Check Out 2018’s Blues and Rock-Themed Cruises

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Fans of blues and rock can head out to sea in 2018, simultaneously getting their musical groove and vacation on aboard three new themed cruises.

Cruise to the Edge 2018

Cruise to the Edge 2018 will be aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Brilliance of the Seas for five nights from February 3-8. Prog-rock’s biggest festival at sea will be hosted by YES as it sails from Tampa, Florida to Belize City, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico prior to returning.

There’s also a complimentary pre-cruise party optional to guests.

Joining YES will be Marillion, Steve Hackett, Mike Portnoy and Derek Sherinian, Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy (honoring Keith Emerson and Greg Lake) and Marin Barre (of Jethro Tull), Saga, Anathema, Gong, Haken, Glass Hammer, Adrian Belew Power Trio, Lifesigns, Knifeworld, Stick Men with special guest violinist David Cross, Sound Of Contact, Moon Safari, IO Earth, Bad Dreams, Thank You Scientist and Baraka.

UK journalist and preeminent YES expert, Jon Kirkman, will also be joining the sailing.

Experiences onboard will include artist/cruiser photo experiences, Q&A sessions, theme nights and more. One main event will be CTTE Late Night Live with the opportunity to potentially jam with a headliner, watch fans and artists performing together, see a guest showcase or have your song selection played.

The Brilliance of the Seas beckons guests with a nine-deck atrium, glass-enclosed elevators, Solarium pool, Vitality Spa, rock-climbing wall and plenty of other venues and Prog Performances stages.

Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV

From February 26 to March 2, 2018, Keeping the Blues Alive at Sea IV will be presented by Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation, Joe Bonamassa and Sixthman aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Jade.

The four-day voyage will naturally showcase Bonamassa and others as the ship departs roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

“We’ve had a blast this year and we’ve had a blast every other year…There has been some great music this year and we will carry it on to next year,” said Bonamassa, in a press release.

Besides Bonamassa, set to perform across multiple onboard stages are Black Country Communion (Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian), Los Lobos, JJ Grey & Mofro, Ana Popovic, North Mississippi Allstars, Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds, The James Hunter Six, Matt Andersen, Kirk Fletcher & Josh Smith, Marcus King Band, Greyhounds, Toronzo Cannon, Larkin Poe, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear, New Orleans Suspects, The Steepwater Band, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Jack Broadbent, The Bros. Landreth and Juzzie Smith.

More are expected to be announced.

The Norwegian Jade will be newly refurbished by the time the music festival kicks off with musical group collaborations, a Black Country Communion reunion, artist activities and lots of live performances. The ship itself will feature new restaurants, bars, lounges and updated interior design.

Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018

The Monsters of Rock Cruise 2018 is scheduled for five nights aboard Royal Caribbean International’s Navigator of the Seas roundtrip from Miami, Florida to Falmouth, Jamaica and Labadee on February 11-16. The hard rock/heavy metal festival will additionally feature two pre-cruise parties.

Artists include Tesla, Queensrÿche, Thunder, Lita Ford, Winger, British Lion featuring Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, Doro, KIX, Y&T, Vixen, Great White, Beasto Blanco, LA Guns, The Pretty Maids, Lynch Mob, Firehouse, Loudness, Michael Sweet (of Stryper), The Quireboys, Tyketto, Dangerous Toys, Junkyard, Keel, Raven, Madam X, Rhino Bucket, John Corabi, Autograph, Lillian Axe, Rough Cutt, Mitch Malloy, The Iron Maidens, Kickin’ Valentina, Jared James Nichols, Thee Rock ‘N Roll Residency, Atomic Punks and more to be announced.

Hosting the cruise and moderating Q&As and other events will be Eddie Trunk and comedian Don Jamieson (VH1’s “That Metal Show”), as well as radio host Nikki Blakk and Luc Carl (SiriusXM’s “Hair Nation”).

Additional activities will extend to artist photo-ops, Gong Show Karaoke, My Bloody Valentine Fantasy Ball, “So You Think You Can Shred” and Cooking with Rock Stars hosted by Lisa Tirone and more.

As a Voyager-class ship, Navigator of the Seas showcases the Royal Promenade and attractions such as a FlowRider surf simulator.

NCL terminal in Miami to expand

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Port of Miami

Norwegian Cruise Line will get an expanded terminal at PortMiami by 2020.
Under a proposal approved by the Miami-Dade County Commission, the existing terminals B and C at the port will be combined and a new Terminal B will be built. The two terminals will accommodate two 5,000 passenger ships at a time.
The cost is expected to be about $100 million.
Already, MSC Cruises is renovating Terminal F for the arrival of its MSC Seaside and Royal Caribbean Cruises broke ground in March for a new Terminal A.