Norwegian Bliss Topside.
Norwegian Cruise Line has promised to never undercut its travel partners after revealing a surge in smaller agents selling its cruises since the introduction of its premium all-inclusive fare.
Nick Wilkinson, vice-president and managing director UK & Ireland, the Middle East and Africa, hailed the efforts of the trade at a media event for new ship Norwegian Bliss in central London.
He went on to link the last year’s move to premium all-inclusive pricing to a spike in agent support.
He said: “Premium all-inclusive has been an incredible success. It has opened doors to more and more agents feeling confident knowing what they’re selling with Norwegian.
“The [number of smaller agents working with Norwegian] is in double-digit growth. To me that is driving the success that we see in the market place.”
In December, NCL offered a new low-cost Just Cruise fare to run alongside premium all-inclusive to helps its sailings rank higher on online travel agencies’ searches.
He added that premium all-inclusive gave agents “the simplicity” they needed to do their job, before revealing that trade sales make up 85% of NCL’s distribution.
“[Travel agents] are our ambassadors,” he said. “They make the difference. That is why we make sure they are protected. They have a really difficult job. We will never undercut our travel agents. They are our lifeline.”
Explaining NCL’s recent decision to make New York its homeport in 2019/20 rather than a UK port, he told Travel Weekly: “The UK market is the number one market outside the US you have to look at when you are designing deployment from a global perspective.
“You have to look at what your demand is from each of those areas.”
He said it was understandable the UK market wanted “the newest, brightest, biggest” vessel but said, thanks to the Norwegian Edge renovation programme, “all our ships are exceptional”.
The 4,004-passenger ship will sail weekly seven-day Alaska cruises each Saturday from Seattle during its inaugural season.
From November, during its first winter season, the vessel will operate seven-day eastern Caribbean cruises each Saturday from PortMiami.
About Norwegian Cruise Line
Norwegian Cruise Line is the innovator in cruise travel with a 50-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. Most notably, Norwegian revolutionized the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise vacation on their schedule with no set dining times, a variety of entertainment options and no formal dress codes. Today, Norwegian invites guests to enjoy a relaxed, resort-style cruise vacation on some of the newest and most contemporary ships at sea with a wide variety of accommodations options, including The Haven by Norwegian®, a luxury enclave with suites, private pools and dining, concierge service and personal butlers. Norwegian Cruise Line sails around the globe, offering guests the freedom and flexibility to explore the world on their own time and experience up to 28 dining options, award-winning entertainment, superior guest service and more across all of the brand’s 15 ships.
Recently, the line was named “Europe’s Leading Cruise Line” for the tenth consecutive year, as well as “Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Line” for the fifth time and “North America’s Leading Cruise Line” for the second straight year by the World Travel Awards. Norwegian’s next new build, the highly anticipated Norwegian Bliss, will be delivered in April 2018 featuring many firsts-at-sea for the global market including the largest race track at sea, award-winning Broadway entertainment, two observation lounges for guests to enjoy stunning ocean and glacier views and more. Norwegian will introduce an additional new “Breakaway Plus” Class cruise ship in 2019 and has four additional ships on order for delivery beginning in 2022, with an option to introduce two more ships in 2026 and 2027.