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.

Norwegian Joy on the way to Shanghai!

Image result for norwegian joy fire

Norwegian Joy cruise’s down the river Ems

The Norwegian Joy begins its journey to China with the passage through the Ems

28 March 2017 . For the Norwegian Joy, the first cruise ship designed by the international shipping company Norwegian Cruise Line, designed specifically for the Chinese market, the Ems Passage has begun a journey to its Chinese home port Shanghai. On Sunday, March 26, the second ship of the Breakaway-Plus class left the Meyer shipyard in Papenburg and began its 14-hour ride over the Ems.

 The transfer of the 333 meter long and 41 meter wide Norwegian Joy represents another important milestone on the way to the transfer to the shipping company on April 27th.

 “We are very pleased that Norwegian Joy has officially started its journey to China,” said David Herrera, President of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings China. “As the first ship built specifically for the Chinese market, the Norwegian Joy will offer our guests a first-class cruise experience, and we can not wait to welcome them to the fleet in June.”

 The journey of the 168,800-ton vessel began around 9:00 pm when the Norwegian Joy passed the ship’s dock sluices with the stern, leaving only 1.2 meters of space on either side of the ship. The team of the ship was under the guidance of experienced shipyards and river controllers, as well as several navigation officers who were responsible for the bow and stern maneuvers. In addition, members of local authorities and other partners were involved in supporting the maneuvers.

 After the lock, the Norwegian Joy continued the passage with the stern ahead, which ensures optimum maneuverability. Prior to reaching its provisional destination Eemshaven in the Netherlands on Monday evening, 27 March, the ship passed further bottlenecks, including the Fries Bridge in Weener, the Jann-Berghaus bridge in Leer and the Ems barrage in Gandersum. Upon arrival in Eemshaven, the Norwegian Joy will take on board other equipment and crew before the trial runs start at sea.

 About the Norwegian Joy

The Norwegian Joy, currently under construction at Meyer Werft, is the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to be designed specifically for the Chinese market. The name Norwegian Joy emphasizes the possibilities and experiences that the ship offers to guests, the promise to feel like in “paradise on the sea”. The new ship of the Breakaway-Plus class will accommodate 3,850 guests and will be commissioned in the summer of 2017 in China.

 The Norwegian Joy is designed to provide guests with an unparalleled cruise experience, equipped with onboard equipment tailored to the specific needs of Chinese holidaymakers. The vessel has a variety of VIP cabins and suites, including The Haven by Norwegian ® , the exclusive cruise ship-to-ship luxury cruise ship from Norwegian Cruise Line, which also includes a completely new 180-degree view deck, As well as the Concierge category, which offers guests VIP services and larger balcony cabins. There are also cabins specially designed for families, a variety of cabins with connecting doors that are particularly suitable for larger families, as well as a large selection of mini suites, balcony, outdoor and indoor cabins, many of which have a virtual balcony.

 The Norwegian Joy offers exciting and innovative board activities, including the first two-level kart track, an open-air laser-day arena, racing car simulators and interactive video walls in the Galaxy Pavilion, and two water slides reaching over several decks. In addition, the Norwegian Joy will have a park-like recreational area and the largest shopping center in the fleet, from extraordinary duty-free shops to shops with world-famous luxury brands.

 

MSC Cruises Anticipates American and Chinese Expansions

MSC Cruises Anticipates American and Chinese Expansions
MSC Seaside, soon to home port in Miami; Florida

For a company like MSC Cruises with eleven new ships set to come online between 2017 and 2026 – contributing to a total $10.2 billion growth investment – it’s important to establish the firmest foundation possible in which to deploy in new markets, and both North America and China are still relatively new to the European line.

MSC Cruises has dedicated the MSC Divina to sailings roundtrip from Miami, Florida, but the line has vacillated on its year-round commitment – establishing it in 2013, leaving it temporarily and then returning again in 2015.

As it is, the Divina was an existing ship that was retrofitted for the U.S. market, and its success was questionable at the start. Initially, service and dining were particularly not up to standards, but the ship has much improved since then, making the Divina a wonderful Mediterranean experience in the Caribbean.

Now, the line is anticipating the launch of its MSC Seaside (rendered above) which, come December 2017, will be the line’s first ship to be exclusively based in the States from the very start, and with the ship’s launch will also coincide the opening of the line’s new Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve in the Bahamas.

With the island destination alone costing $200 million, there is a lot at stake for MSC Cruises in the Caribbean next year.

READ MORE: MSC Cruises Appoints President, Chairman to Lead North American Growth 

So, the line is making a fresh start with its North American leadership team. It is bolstering it up by effectively putting two in the driver’s seat: 12-year-veteran Rick Sasso becomes Chairman of MSC North America, and executive Roberto Fusaro takes the role of President of MSC North America after his success in South America on behalf of the cruise line.

“With the ultra-modern and beautiful MSC Divina home-porting in Miami, the revolutionary MSC Seaside to be christened in Miami in December 2017 and to also home-port there, as well as the development of Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – the most exciting new private destination ever built by a cruise line – it is clear that MSC Cruises is committed to the North American market,” said Fusaro.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to take on this new challenge and excited to work with Rick and the rest of the North American team as we look to further grow our business in the region and deliver a unique vacation experience to guests on board one of the most modern and elegant fleets at sea.”

 Similarly in China, MSC Cruises has meanwhile opened up an office for the line in Shanghai, where its MSC Lirica has been recently deployed, and appointed Helen Huang as President of MSC Greater China. She comes to MSC after regional endeavors with Costa Asia and Costa China. As more and more cruise lines enter Asian markets, competition rapidly grows, and MSC Cruises’ new developments in China show that the company means business.

“I look forward to a new journey to contribute to making MSC Cruises – in the footsteps of what the company has already accomplished in China – the most attractive brand to Chinese vacationers,” added Huang.