Hot on the heels of announcing a new Sydney office, Norwegian Cruise Lines has revealed it is looking at an even greater presence in the region – including the possibility of sending a ship for the first time in 13 years.
Harry Sommer, Executive Vice President International Business Development, speaking exclusively to Cruise Passenger, said: “The Asia Pacific region is a hot topic at the moment, and we are exploring the possibility of adding new destinations. As the industry becomes more global, we’re exploring new markets to see what may be a good fit for our unique Freestyle Cruising offering.’’
Norwegian hasn’t had a ship in Australia since the 2001-2002 winter season, but our record million-plus cruise passengers and huge growth in Asia could provide the impetus to base one of their distinctively liveried fleet of 14 ships here.
Mr Sommer revealed the line had experienced double-digit growth in Australian cruisers, with Europe their favourite destination.
So the Sydney office, combining the company’s upmarket brands of Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, makes sense.
“We saw the opening of a dedicated sales and marketing centre in Australia as an obvious next step to support the growing demand for cruise travel from residents of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands,” he said.
The line has hired industry veteran Steve Odell, formerly of Silversea, to run it.
“It’s an exciting time for us, as the company offers a portfolio of offerings spanning every market segment, from a young, modern contemporary fleet in Norwegian Cruise Line, to Oceania Cruises as an upper premium product and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in the luxury sector,” said Mr Sommer.
Norwegian is about to launch Escape, it’s biggest vessel yet. It is best known for Freestyle Cruising, allowing passengers a wide choice of accommodation, dining and activities.
Other unique features include single-occupancy studios, popular with solo travellers, and The Haven, an exclusive enclave of suites with courtyards and butlers.
“When guests cruise on Norwegian, they have the luxury of choice to create the vacation experience that they desire, “ said Mr Sommer.
“With up to 25 dining options, award-wining Broadway entertainment and wide array of stateroom options ranging from Studios for single travellers to The Haven, our exclusive, key-card access only ship-within-a-ship suite complex, Norwegian offers the best contemporary cruising experience at sea.
“And we absolutely cannot wait to introduce Norwegian Escape this fall, a ship that truly embodies what Freestyle Cruising stands for.”
Mr Sommer dismissed suggestions that Norwegian would need to discount because of the competitive nature of the Australian market, but he did not rule out special deals including free drinks and wi-fi.
“As a company, we are working hard to move the conversation towards value. With our current freestyle choice promotion, we have changed our promotional offers towards a strong value message, with offers ranging from the Ultimate Beverage Package that includes free premium wines and spirits to free wi-fi.”
There is much anticipation about the new Regent Seven Seas Explorer, launching next year and reputed to have the world’s most luxurious suites. Mr Sommer is enthusiastic.
“The all-inclusive luxury experience offered by Regent Seven Seas Cruises in universally popular because we offer a cruise vacation that epitomises what cruising is meant to be – elegant cruise ships featuring exceptional personalised guest service, taking guests on unforgettable journeys to the world’s greatest destinations, and a cruise experience where everything is included, without exception and without compromise.
In 2016 alone, Regent Seven Seas Cruises will offer more than 40 destination-rich voyages that are 21 days in length or longer, which appeal to the Australian market, where the traveling public tend to enjoy longer, extended holidays.”
And of the news that Norwegian has recently parted company with SpongeBob and his fellow Nickelodeon characters, Mr Sommer simply said: “Watch this space!”