‘Fundamentals of the industry are very strong’ says NCL boss

The boss of Norwegian Cruise Line is optimistic about the long-term growth of the company, which plans to launch eight new ships by 2036, along with investments in its private Bahamian island.

Following the delivery of four Prima-Plus class ships from 2025 through to 2028, Norwegian Cruise Line is expected to take delivery of four ships, each with a capacity of nearly 5,000 guests, in 2030, 2032, 2034 and 2036.

Parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) has also ordered two ships for its Oceania Cruises brand, to be delivered in 2027 and 2029, and two for Regent Seven Seas Cruises, scheduled for 2026 and 2029.

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David Herrera, NCL president, told a Travel Weekly webcast: “When we talk about capacity growth, we’re a very rigorous and analytically minded company; we have disciplined capacity growth.

“What’s promising is that the fundamentals of the industry are very strong, very fair and very favourable for us.”

He was speaking during a trade mission to the UK during which he announced NCL will take 1,550 UK agents on a three-night round-trip sailing from Southampton with Norwegian Aqua ahead of the ship’s inaugural season next spring.

The first of the line’s expanded Prima Plus class vessels, the 3,571-passenger ship will be 10% larger than the first two Prima class ships, Prima and Viva.

Herrera said younger cruisers coming into the market means there are plenty of potential new-to-cruise customers – especially in the wake of the pandemic when holidaymakers missed out on travel.

“Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Y – they’re all growing in their interest in cruising,” he said.

“At NCL, we have something for everybody, whether you are the retiree who’s doing her first solo cruise, or you’re that couple on their honeymoon, or you’re that big family group.”

He likened the growth of the fleet to developing a rugby team, with smaller ships able to access smaller ports while larger vessels cater to strong demand in destinations such as the Caribbean.

Herrera also highlighted how NCL’s wide range of destinations appeals to British cruisers.

“The great thing about the UK guests is that they love to travel,” he said.

“We have ships all over the world at any given time.

“And once they see what they get for their money, UK, North American and Asian guests understand this great value.”

He said NCL’s team is “constantly in communication” with agents, highlighting “the value gap” between cruises and land-based holidays.

“The price gap is anywhere from 30% to 40% higher on a land-based vacation if you try to replicate everything. You’re going to have a hard time replicating a cruise, especially one on NCL,” he said.

NCLH is also spending $150 million on building a multi-ship pier at the company’s Great Stirrup Cay private island in the Bahamas, to be completed by late 2025.

Herrera said the pier will mean passengers won’t have to arrive by tender, which can be a “challenge” in winter – and further amenities are also planned for the island.

“If you’re looking to do something a little more adventurous, we have a few more amenities to be announced soon. It’s something for everybody,” he said.

“We are going to continue to expand and invest on the island and give our guests exactly what they’re asking for.”

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