Norwegian Cruise Line’s UK chief has ruled out operating round-Britain sailings this summer in favour of recently announced fly-cruise itineraries which “fit our brand better”.
NCL announced plans to restart voyages from July – with Norwegian Jade sailing from Athens, Norwegian Gem out of Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Norwegian Joy homeporting in Jamaica’s Montego Bay.
Speaking to TTG on Thursday (8 April) Eamonn Ferrin, vice-president and managing director UK, Ireland, Middle East and Africa, said the line had looked at deployment “from a global level” and felt the destinations and itineraries announced were “much more suitable” for guests across its source markets.
“People want to go on a fly-cruise to the Med or Caribbean, and we feel that’s a better market for us to go for,” he said. “We feel it fits our brand better and our customers better. So I don’t think we’ll be looking to stand up a UK ship for this season.”
Ferrin said a late July restart, coupled with NCL’s global outlook, meant favouring sailings away from the UK.
“It got a bit late to be starting up at the end of July. You’re getting into a late season process – so we felt [the announced itineraries] were a better fit. The three we’ve chosen on a global basis are stunning itineraries that Brits love and there’s already a lot of demand.”
However Ferrin asserted NCL’s commitment to the UK market through its partnership with ABP Southampton on a new terminal at the port.
“Our long-term goal is to have a lot more capacity from Southampton – so we definitely see a bright future for more departures.”
Speaking alongside Ferrin, NCL president and chief executive Harry Sommer described being able to restart as “like Christmas in April”, adding how “in a typical year” the Greek Isles are NCL’s most popular destination among UK customers.
“We normally have three ships out of Athens, Venice and Rome that are extremely well booked by the Brits," he said.
Sommer shared his hopes British travellers would be able join NCL cruises in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic once travel restrictions were relaxed later in the summer “certainly by August”.