Norwegian Cruise Line will pull its first built-for-China ship, Norwegian Joy, out of the region and deploy an additional sixth ship in Europe next summer.
Joy, which launched in 2017 and is “styled exclusively for Chinese travellers”, will join sister ship Norwegian Bliss sailing seasonally in Alaska in summer 2019 and offering Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal voyages in winter 2019-2020.
The vessel will undergo a $50 million revamp to cater for the tastes of western guests.
Nick Wilkinson, vice-president and managing director UK and Ireland, told TTG that the 3,883-passenger Joy would be “internationalised” with changes made to its onboard dining and casinos.
The line will also be adding an expanded observation deck identical to Bliss, he explained.
NCL will replace the ship with the 1,996-passenger Norwegian Spirit which will sail seasonally to the region from summer 2020 and will undergo a bow-to-stern revamp as part of the Norwegian Edge fleet refurbishment.
In February 2020 the ship’s journey from Europe to Asia will feature maiden calls for NCL in South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles and the Maldives.
Prior to that, Spirit will sail ex-UK next summer.
Wilkinson said that despite the decrease in capacity “the Chinese market is one that we are very committed to.”
Closer to home, Norwegian Pearl will reposition from the US next summer to offer ex-Amsterdam itineraries and sailings from Rome, Barcelona and Venice.
Pearl joins five other NCL vessels in Europe: Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Spirit, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Star and Norwegian Jade, as part of its largest ever European deployment.
Sailings will go on sale on July 31.
Wilkinson said the decision had been prompted by “robust demand” for Europe from across the line’s source markets.
“If you look at the booking curve – it’s moving further and further out and people are booking sooner and sooner," he said.
“This was demonstrated by Bliss – the best-selling ship in our history. Having that extra capacity in Europe is a real commitment to the UK trade.”