NCL ‘on track for record year’ in UK

The chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) expects the firm to have a record year for growth in the UK market as demand soars for 2022 and next year.

Harry Sommer revealed the UK has outperformed all other markets in recent months which, if the trend continues, will result in a record year for bookings and number of passengers on board.

In an interview with Travel Weekly, Sommer said: “The UK market is performing fantastically. If the bookings in the last two months were to continue, it would be our best year ever from a booking perspective, which means 2023 will be our best year ever in terms of a travel guest perspective.

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“We’re on track to be up between 15% and 20% over what we did in 2019 if the current trends continue.

“We’re seeing decent growth in the rest of Europe too, but the UK is leading the way in terms of growth.

“No country got Covid right, but in the last few months the UK has been taking the leading edge on trying to get back to normal and it shows.”

Sommer predicted capacity on board would return to 100% by the summer, rising from 60% over the last month.

He said: “In April we’ve wound up at around 65% in terms of occupancy, but we fully hope to ramp up for at least some of our summer itineraries to be back to full in July and August, particularly on cruises around the Mediterranean and Alaska.

“Our lowest occupancy is on our northern Europe cruises, as the highlight was to spend two days in St Petersburg, and we’ve pulled out of that. On top of that, some guests are hesitant to visit nearby countries so those cruises will have lower capacity.”

NCL was scheduled to hold a two-night trade showcase in July ahead of the official launch of incoming vessel Norwegian Prima but cancelled the event earlier this month.

“With the situation in Ukraine, and even besides that, there have been some supply chain issues,” explained Sommer. “The ship will be delivered on time, but we decided we wanted to add in a 10-day pad at the end to make sure it’s perfect, which is why we cancelled the trade event.”

Sommer confirmed the line would not be holding a replacement UK trade trip.

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