Norwegian Cruise Line - atriumNorwegian Cruise Line will offer cruises next year that appeal mainly to the British – as a way of testing the UK market.

Norwegian Gem, which launches in October 2007, will sail an 11-night cruise from Dover to Barcelona on October 8, followed by a seven-night cruise to Rome at half-term and three 12-night itineraries from Spain to the Canary Islands.

Speaking on new ship Norwegian Pearl, which was showcased to the trade in Southampton last week, NCL UK general manager Francis Riley said the cruises on Norwegian Gem would be a trial.

At the moment, NCL operates just one ship, Norwegian Jewel, in the Mediterranean in summer. It will be back for a third summer season in 2007.

Riley said: “We expect to contribute 25%-30% of business on all ships, but as we have had up to 60% during school holidays this year we know we can do more. We need to aggressively price the product from the start and give agents the right tools to sell it.”

NCL Corporation president and chief executive Colin Veitch ruled out basing a ship in Southampton for the UK as the cruiseline needed to “build up” the European market.

Riley said NCL’s new corporate look – which depicts the cruiseline as a ‘rebellious’ white fish swimming against the traditional cruise product – would prompt people to ask for NCL.

The new look was launched in the UK last week and is designed to highlight the Freestyle Cruising brand adopted in 2000. The fish is being rolled out across all NCL’s literature and is backed by the cruiseline’s first consumer campaign for more than a decade.

Veitch said: “Next year, 80% of NCL customers will be sailing on a modern Freestyle ship, and it will soon be 100%. This is the right time to tell consumers what we are doing.”