Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) vice-president and managing director, UK & I and MEA, Nick Wilkinson, has shared preliminary details of its upcoming Middle East roadshow with TTN.
Taking place from October 14 to 18, the roadshow will be visiting Dubai (October 14-15), Kuwait (October 16-17) and Bahrain (October 18) over the five-day period. Wilkinson aims to interact with select press, influencers and, of course, travel agents, to share cruising trends, touch upon the future of cruising in the Middle East, and insights on how to attract new travellers to cruise.
“Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are fast-growing markets for us. The support we have received from travel partners has been exceptional. I feel it’s quite important that we come back on a regular basis to keep our travel partners and their consumers updated. The launch of the 2019 brochure has stirred quite some excitement, with six European deployments from May 2019, a first in the history of NCL.
“2019 is an exciting year for us. We will launch Norwegian Encore in October and some of TTN’s readers will be invited to see the Encore on a two-night cruise from Bremerhaven to South Hampton. What’s more, two NCL ships, Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit, will be coming into the Middle East in late 2019. These are great opportunities to showcase the Norwegian product to agents and prospective customers.”
These two NCL ships will be embarking from Dubai, and are already open to bookings. In November/December 2019, the 2,400-passenger Norwegian Jade will offer embarkation in Dubai before stopping at Abu Dhabi, Khasab, Oman, Fujairah, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Malaysia, with a disembarkation in Singapore.
Further down the line in March 2020, the Norwegian Spirit will also embark in Dubai before stopping at Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Muscat, Seychelles, Madagascar, Reunion and South Africa, with a disembarkation in Cape Town. Prior to her arrival, Norwegian Spirit will undergo a previously scheduled bow-to-stern revitalisation as the final ship to undergo enhancements under the Norwegian Edge fleet refurbishment programme.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s popular buy one, get one half off (BOGOHO) price promotion, which was valid until the end of September, will again be made available in November in a bid to boost bookings further. As usual, guests can ‘book with confidence’ and pay a deposit in advance and only make the final payment 120 days in advance. What’s more, if they change their minds, they even get their deposits back, as long as they do so 120 days prior to sailing. “Now is the time for agents to secure those family cabins, those cabins that their consumers really want, knowing that they have no financial exposure up to 120 days ahead of the sailing.”
The main challenge all cruise lines face in the Middle East is the nature of its last-minute bookings, resulting in eager customers missing the boat (quite literally) or settling for cabins that don’t suit their needs and therefore, take away from the overall experience.
“I’ve now been coming down to the Middle East for 16 years. When I first came here, no one was booking cruises in advance. I’m happy to report that the forward bookings of 2019 are looking incredibly strong from the region. I believe they have been driven by BOGOHO and ‘book with confidence.”