Norwegian Cruise Line is seeing strong bookings for Q4 onwards and trends including longer durations, extended family group bookings and customers upgrading to higher grades of accommodation.
Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast recorded before the prime minister’s roadmap announcement, the line’s vice-president and UK & Ireland managing director Eamonn Ferrin, said: “Obviously, we’re not sailing until June 1 at the earliest, so short-term sales are clearly very challenging.
“We are seeing some bookings for Q3, but it’s fair to say the further you move out, the stronger the bookings are. So Q4 is doing very well for winter, and then 2022 has been doing exceptionally well.”
Asked what customers were booking, Ferrin added: “Generally, we’re seeing a lot more long-haul product; durations are a little bit longer; people are definitely upgrading – we’re seeing great demand for the balcony and even our suite product, Haven – that’s doing very, very well; and we’re seeing extended groups.
“If you think of all of our lives personally, when was the last time you saw your extended family and friends? So we’re finding groups are coming in quite strongly, particularly extended family groups.”
He said: “All those trends are playing out for 2022 and 2023. And in fact, we are loaded and have inventory on sale as far out as it’s ever been for NCL which is a great strength. We actually have Pride of America on sale out to 2024. So, we are seeing even some 2024 bookings.”
Asked what consumer sentiment was like, he described it as “hugely positive and encouraging”.
“You have to remember the cruise industry generally has gone from less than 20 million passengers maybe 10 years ago to 30 million in the last year of sailing . So it’s been compound growing at 6% or 7%-a-year for many years now,” he said.
“That was the sign of the success of the industry in drawing both new customers and keeping existing customers. At NCL Holdings, we had a record year in 2019; we carried 2.7 million passengers across the group.”
He added: “I think what we’re seeing at the minute is astounding. The booking levels we’ve seeing are fantastic for later on in 2021. And of course, bookings for 2022 and 2023 are just tremendous signs that the customer wants to sail – and that’s both existing customers and also new customers. So we’re very pleased.”
Ferrin claimed the success of NCL’s current Break Free campaign was also “a sign of confidence that the market will come back”.
“We’ve got hugely great feedback from that because I think we all do want to break free,” he said. “Everyone is really desperate to go on vacation.”
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