Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) President and CEO Frank Del Rio underscored his enthusiasm for Alaska on the company’s third-quarter earnings call.
He said the company will continue to make investments and cultivate partnerships in the region, noting the new pier NCLH has agreed to build in Ketchikan, its $20 million purchase of 2.9 acres of waterfront property in Juneau, and the construction of a second pier at Icy Point Strait.
“We are investing in port facilities and guest experiences,” he said. “Alaska is destination-centric and you much have the land capabilities in place. We have almost doubled our capacity in Alaska over the past three years and will be even stronger as we finalize our investments.”
NCLH’s Q3 Alaska capacity was up 17 per cent over the same period last year.
In Ketchikan, NCLH has entered into a 30-year preferential berthing agreement with Ward Cove Dock Group, which allows for the construction of a new double ship pier in Ward Cove.
Meanwhile, current zoning laws are said to prevent a pier from being built on the property in Juneau.
The pier will be built to simultaneously accommodate two of Norwegian Cruise Line’s 4,200-passenger Breakaway-Plus class ships and is expected to be ready for the summer 2020 season.
NCLH partnered with the Port of Seattle in 2015 on the renovation and expansion of the Bell Street Terminal at Pier 66 which was ready for the 2018 season and the 4,000-berth Norwegian Bliss.
NCLH and the port entered into a 15-year lease agreement providing its ships priority berth space in Seattle for the full term of the lease in return for passenger volume guarantees. NCLH manages the cruise operations at Pier 66, while the port operates the facilities outside the cruise season.
Next year, the Norwegian brand will have three ships in Alaska, with the Norwegian Bliss, Joy and Sun will be from Seattle. In 2021, the new Encore will take over for the Joy. Oceania and Regent will each have one ship in the Alaska market, with the Regatta and the Seven Seas Mariner from Seattle, Vancouver and Seward.
Del Rio cited what he called “incredibly strong ticket pricing and onboard spend” in the Alaska market and also noted the lengthening of the season, which now runs all the way from April to October.
“In the coming years, we will further bolster our presence and commitment to the region,” Del Rio noted.