Norwegian Cruise Line is planning to push Hawaii and its fixed Aussie dollar pricing in its opening gambit to woo more Australians to its fleet of ‘Freestyle Cruising’ vessels, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Sales Steve Odell told Cruise Passenger this morning.
Fixed Australian dollar pricing means passengers could still buy at a US dollar rate of 85 cents – effectively giving them a 15 per cent discount at the current Aussie exchange rate.
“We won’t be allowing prices to fluctuate daily,” he said.
Mr Odell will be running Norwegian’s new Sydney office, with a staff of around 45. Norwegian’s new Sydney home and all-Aussie call centre signals another step in the increasing choice facing the region’s rapidly growing cruise market.
The office will also represent Regent Seven Seas, which has a new ship launching next year said to be the world’s most luxurious.
Mr Odell, an industry veteran with 17 years experience dealing with luxury line Silversea, was upbeat about Norwegian engaging the increasingly sophisticated Australian cruiser.
On getting a local ship into Australia, he said: “It’s certainly on our radar but it’s not going to happen in the short to medium term. The company has other objectives at the moment.
“We are looking at Asia closely and we have got big Norwegian ships coming.”
Mr Odell said his job was to raise awareness – though Norwegian was already popular among Australians.
“It’s one of the best kept secrets,” he said. “I took at NCL cruise in summer and I was blown away…I was the on the Norwegian Epic – 20 restaurants and hardly a moment’s rest because there is always something happening.
“I think it very much fits the DNA of Australians. A lot of freedom of choice, it’s very family orientated. So I think it will do very well here. We just have to go out and shout our story!”
Mr Odell said Hawaii was particularly strong for Norwegian and Australians liked the destination, with weekly cruises on a Saturday.
“It’s an exclusive product to NCL – there isn’t a competitor. We do exceptionally well with that in the market here.
“The next big opportunity is Europe. When you look at the volume of Australians going to Europe between May and October that’s big opportunity. We have seven, ten and 12 deck products in the Med and I believe we should be talking up what we do, where we go and the extended family market particularly I would like to focus on.”
Mr Odell said ‘Freestyle Cruising’ would appeal to Australians – and particularly the large family market – with prepaid drinks, shore excursions, WiFi and gratuity packages.
“There are great prices but a lot of added value,” he said. “It shouldn’t just be about price.
Mr Odell said Australia had an increasing capacity for luxury brands.
“This is part of the market I know best. I think the opportunity is absolutely huge. Regent’s a little bit of a secret and we can change that very quickly.
“The biggest selling aspect of Regent is the totally exclusive nature of the product, from transfers and pre-hotels to shore excursions. When you buy the Regent product, you buy everything.
“We are going to have Australian pricing for that brand after Christmas. This is about space, good food, big suites and about the inclusiveness of the product.
“Knowing Silversea as I do for all those years, this is a big opportunity for us.”
Mr Odell said he believed Regent could increase its share of the market very rapidly.
The Seven Seas Explorer, the most luxurious ship every built, would make a big difference and “the publicity machine for this is already very good.”
Advanced sales have been strong, and he said Australians were already keenly looking at the new ship.
Norwegian Cruise Line is best known for families with children. They claim the youngest fleet at sea with plenty of entertainment lounges, bars and tech gear.
The Sydney office represents the company’s three brands: Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands operate 21 ships with approximately 40,000 lower berths visiting more than 420 destinations worldwide.