Norwegian Cruise Line’s incoming boss has hinted that the first Leonardo-class ship will be based in Europe when it launches in 2022.

Previously, Frank Del Rio, chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, revealed that at least one of the six 3,300 passenger vessels on order would sail itineraries from Southampton.

Speaking on new ship Norwegian Encore, Harry Sommer, who will become the line’s new president and chief executive in 2020, said he “wouldn’t be shocked” if the first vessel operated in Europe during its maiden season.

“I can’t commit to Southampton, but I will commit to saying we’re seriously looking to position it in Europe,” he said. “It comes out [the shipyard] in June just outside Venice and it gives us a perfect opportunity to showcase [the ship].”

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Sommer added: “Unlike P&O Cruises and some of the other cruise lines, we are not looking for UK people to come out of Southampton,” he added. “We do much better when we get people on an airplane.

“Our goal is to get people to planes to our ships and have a more meaningful vacation experience than taking an hour’s drive.”

NCL is currently preparing to launch its final Breakaway-Plus class ship Norwegian Encore in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The 3,998-passenger vessel will embark on a two-day preview cruise to Southampton before sailing a nine-day transatlantic voyage to New York on November 2.

Sommer referred to the vessel as the “slightly prettier sister” of Norwegian Bliss, which was the third Breakaway-Plus class vessel to launch.

Encore is the first NCL vessel to ban single-use plastic bottles as the line prepares to adopt the initiative fleet-wide on January 1.

“This starts from the top and Frank [Del Rio] has challenged us to get rid of as many single-use items as possible,” Sommer said. “We have been at the forefront [of sustainability] and we are going to continue to be at the forefront.”