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Norwegian Cruise Line open to spreading its newest ships into Asia-Pacific

As new ships join the fleet, the question NCL executives are asking themselves is 'where are they all going to go'?

Jason Krimmel (left) with NCL VP and Managing Director Asia-Pacific, Ben Angell.

Waters in Australia and Asia could become home to some of the newest members of Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet as more ships join the fray in coming years, the line has suggested.

The remarks came during a visit to Australia this week by Norwegian Cruise Line’s Vice President of International Sales, Jason Krimmel, who left the door open to a Breakaway, Breakaway Plus or even a Prima class vessel traversing regional waters in the near future.

Norwegian Cruise Line recently unveiled Norwegian Aqua as the first member of its ultra-modern Prima-Plus class, which will set sail from the middle of 2025, with three more to come in successive years through to 2028.

The Prima-Plus class is a slightly upsized version of the model which debuted with Norwegian Prima in 2022 and followed earlier this year by Norwegian Viva. Two of the remaining three ships in the pipeline will be larger still, although the firm passenger capacity is yet to be determined.

Krimmel said a key element in the growth of the domestic Australian market taking local cruises is the hardware, but with Sydney’s well-documented capacity ceiling east of the Harbour Bridge, other cities could find themselves prioritised if a newer ship was to make its way to local waters.

“As we have three Prima class ships now open for sale, three more coming and whatever may come beyond, it is likely that we will have to look to Europe and Australian destinations in order to put those ships, because we're going to have more of them,” Krimmel said.

Norwegian Aqua will debut in 2025 as the first of the Prima-Plus class.

“I think that if we look at what we are doing now with our ships and more exotic places, there is a likelihood that we may look at this region in a different capacity bringing more ships that touch the area - not necessarily based here, but more ships that come into this region. So that will then give more exposure to the NCL brand to the great people in Australia.”

Currently, Australia’s strength for Norwegian Cruise Line was in the fly/cruise space, where Aussies were embracing the itinerary options being offered around the world, perhaps most typified in recent years by the debut of Norwegian Prima in Iceland.

“So what [Iceland] did, it was a new itinerary for us. It drew the experiential guest and it drew the new ship loyalists. Because there's always new ship loyalists, whether they're brand loyalists or not. And having a launch in Reykjavik, that was a winning combination for us.”

Krimmel said prior to the pandemic, Australia was the highest international market for Norwegian Cruise Line, and as of 2023 it has nearly reclaimed that title. But while that mark edges closer, in terms of overall passenger numbers, Australia is already ahead of where it was in 2019.

Australians are also among the highest yielding for Norwegian Cruise Line, with Aussie travellers eager to engage with the cruise experience and develop a loyalty for the brand which leads to a strong repeat business and making them a higher quality guest than the ravenous discount hunters that are often found in the “milk run” Caribbean itineraries.

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Written by: Matt Lennon
Published: 17 November 2023

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