After Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced that Norwegian Joy — the second ship in its Breakaway Plus class and one that was built specifically for the Chinese market — would move to Seattle in April 2018 and sail Alaskan cruises, it quickly became apparent that NCL was looking at becoming the major cruise force in the Alaskan market.
Ahead of Joy’s move, Travel Market Report spoke to Norwegian’s Senior Vice President of Sales Camille Olivere to see what it means that Norwegian now has two of its latest, and largest, ships serving the Alaskan market.
What makes Norwegian Bliss such a special ship?
The many innovative and experiential features onboard Norwegian Bliss make her one of the most compelling ships at sea. From the 180-degree views guests can enjoy from our magnificent Observation Lounge, to the largest racetrack at sea featuring nine twists and turns at up to 30 miles an hour, to our open-air laser tag arena, Norwegian Bliss offers an elevated yet approachable design that is complemented by a multi-million-dollar art collection.
With the ship’s incredible reception and success in the region, we felt strongly about our decision to bring her sister ship, Norwegian Joy, to Alaska. When she repositions from China next spring, she will undergo a $50-million-dollar renovation, which will make Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss virtually identical.
How was the decision made to move Norwegian Joy to Alaska?
With the success of Norwegian Bliss and the overwhelming demand we see in Alaska, we knew the time was right to introduce Norwegian Joy to the region. Following her first season in Alaska, she will move to Los Angeles and offer five-day and seven-day cruises to the Mexican Riviera. This was another strategic move, as this market is a definite focus of ours. We’d like to grow our presence on the West coast, and Los Angeles has only been served by a few cruise lines. Now, we will have a greater presence there with Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy. That’s the beauty of having a fleet of ships. We have the flexibility to reposition them to over-performing, unserved and underserved markets.
What does Norwegian Joy’s arrival, along with Norwegian Bliss, in Alaska mean for Norwegian? How big is the Alaskan market for Norwegian?
Norwegian Cruise Line expanded the Alaska cruise experience as the first line to sail to the state from Seattle over 24 years ago, and we are extremely excited to further strengthen our presence in the region. A visit to the state is a bucket list trip for many, and cruising this magnificent destination is the easiest and best way to see Alaska. It’s also a more cost-effective approach to visiting some of the top cities and sights within the state. We noticed that Alaska is a popular choice for first-time cruisers, giving us the opportunity to “wow” them and turn them into repeat guests across our fleet. It’s also a common itinerary for families and multigenerational groups, as cruising offers a variety of experiences for all. I’m sure you know that, at Norwegian, we offer the flexibility and variety for guests to create their unique experience onboard.
Do you expect to be at full capacity for both ships?
One of the driving factors that led to our decision to introduce Norwegian Joy to the U.S. market was the overwhelming demand and lengthening of the booking window for the Alaska itinerary. We absolutely expect to sail at full capacity.
Does Norwegian consider itself the biggest player in Alaska, now that both Norwegian Joy and Norwegian Bliss are there?
What’s important is that our travel partners are telling us we are the best player in Alaska. With the announcement of Norwegian Joy’s deployment to the region, we will have two brand new, beautiful ships delivering an outstanding guest experience in the market.
What should agents know about selling Norwegian Joy?
If agents have experienced Norwegian Bliss, they’ll understand the quality experience our guests can expect to have on Norwegian Joy. Though her upcoming enhancements will bring her design and offerings closer to that on Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy will have several unique features, including a new Concierge class category, which offers VIP benefits such as priority embarkation and disembarkation, priority reservations and seating for dining and entertainment, and exclusive access to private dining for breakfast and lunch. Concierge class offers a variety of accommodation types, including two-bedroom and two-bath staterooms that can accommodate up to six guests. Unlike Norwegian Bliss, Norwegian Joy does not offer Studios, but will feature The Haven for those guests who are looking for an elevated and more exclusive experience.
Guests can look forward to racing around at sea with the electric go kart track they are familiar with on Norwegian Bliss, as well as the open-air laser tag experience. The Galaxy Pavilion, which is unique to Norwegian Joy, offers a vast arena of virtual reality games and more.
The dining outlets will be updated to mirror those our guests are familiar with across our fleet, and new entertainment options will be available — staying true to our commitment to high-caliber entertainment onboard.
Lastly, Norwegian Joy’s Alaska port of calls will differ slightly from that of Norwegian Bliss, providing variety in the marketplace. She will also offer five-day and seven-day cruises to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles, and 12-day and 16-day Panama Canal cruises.