At Travel Weekly, we could not be more excited about the cruise industry’s long-awaited return to Australia!
After two long years, 23 postponements, and a cruise ship fiasco that had the nation watching the industry in March 2020, everyone’s favourite spout of luxury at the sea has returned.
But many in the industry are wondering how smoothly Australia’s will return to sea will go. We had a chat with Eamonn Ferrin, the VP of international business at Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), to discuss cruise’s big return.
“We’re starting to see strong demand in the last few months from the Australia and New Zealand market as things have evolved and COVID has become less of an issue for governments,” Ferrin said.
“There’s huge pent-up demand and we’re seeing that pent-up demand bites back as we go back on sailing.
“Typically (NCL are) seeing a lot of customers and it doesn’t matter whether you look at the UK, or Europe or the US or indeed Australia and New Zealand, there’s a lot of money built up over those two years, excess savings as they recall it and people are putting those to good use.”
Ferrin and the team at NCL have been eagerly preparing for the return to cruising in Australia, and have even introduced an incentive for members of its Partners First Rewards program for bookings made on the Norwegian Spirit during April.
The ship is coming to Australia and New Zealand after the most extensive – and expensive – makeover in NCL’s history, totalling more than $130 million.
NCL also managed to get Katy Perry to be the godmother of the cruise line’s newest ship, Norwegian Prima.
“Katy Perry is a global icon,” Ferrin said.
“She hopefully will be joining us on our christening voyage in Reykjavik in August, which we’re greatly looking forward to.”
However, cruising isn’t all just fun and celebrities. In fact, the last major time cruising was on the top of everyone’s mind was the Ruby Princess fiasco, which has spurred the cruise lines to prioritise health and safety.
“There is nothing that is more important to us as cruise lines and NCL than the health and safety of our crew, passengers on board, and the communities that we visit,” Ferrin said.
“All of our crew on board are fully vaccinated. They all are regularly tested to make sure they don’t have COVID. Every single one of the customers who have come aboard our ship, anyone over 12 years of age has to be again fully vaccinated with the approved dosage.
“We’ve invested massively in health and safety as part of that review process and therefore it makes our customers and our travel partners feel very safe.”
With this higher level of health and safety, Ferrin said travel agents can rest assured that they are selling a high-quality product to their clients, where there is alot of potential to make up for lost earnings over the past two years.
“It’s a high product and it’s high value. So the prices are not low, but then the Commission is good,” Ferrin said.
“So if you want to make money and your keen on growing your business, selling a cruise as a package with a flight and hotel, maybe pre and post and some sort of other transfers and other things behind it, a cruise can be very remunerative for the travel partner.”
Ferrin believes that cruising is a growth market with huge potential and the hand-in-hand relationship between travel agents and cruise lines is critical coming out of the pandemic.
“We will need our travel agent partners to sell more than ever before. So we’re very much 120 per cent behind the growth and support of the travel partners,” Ferrin concluded.