Cruise

“We’re not the brand for every consumer”: Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Andy Stuart

Lauren Croft

Attention, all cruise enthusiasts: CLIA Cruise 360 is today!

Keynote speaker Andy Stuart‘s presentation isn’t until this afternoon, but luckily for you, we caught up with him earlier this week to find out what he has in store for attendees today, what sets NCL apart and where the future of cruising is headed.

Stuart hasn’t spoken at Cruise 360 for three years and told Travel Weekly that this year presented a great opportunity to speak to Aussie agents. 

“I’m trying to stay off the Norwegian brand and talk more generally about innovation and why it’s important,” he said.

“Agents shouldn’t just be looking at the cruise industry to innovate, theres a lot of innovation in the travel agent community themselves, in distribution, in how to reach customers.

“So I’m trying to talk more broadly about innovation – the heart of how everyone should think about their business.”

Stuart added that for agents to be able to sell cruise effectively, they need to understand that each cruise line is unique.

“There’s a lot of different cruise lines out there, and understanding the differences between the cruise lines is important. There is a brand for different consumers. We’re not the brand for every consumer that walks into their office,” he said.

Stuart’s trip down under is timed perfectly – and follows an avalanche of exciting announcements for the brand.

NCL has expanded it’s itinerary offerings, with an increased presence in Asia. Norwegian Jade will offer a season of sailings throughout Southeast Asia departing from Singapore and Hong Kong in summer 2019/2020 – stopping in ports like Phuket, Langkawi, Penang, Bangkok (Laem Chabang), Ho Chi Minh City (Phu My) and Ha Long Bay.

The cruise line’s newest, and seventeenth, ship, Norwegian Encore, will begin cruising at the end of 2019, and NCL has also proceeded with orders for two additional Project Leonardo Class ships for delivery in 2026 and 2027.

“We’re excited about Norwegian Encore, she’s the next new ship. She’ll deliver in November next year and we’ll have some new things on her that we’re not talking about yet. Then the next new plaster ship is 2022, so lots of new capacity coming,” Stuart told TW. 

And they need it: itineraries for early 2019 are already booking out – and since launching in the Aussie market only three years ago, NCL’s Australian customer base has grown exponentially.

“People are booking earlier than they’ve historically booked and 2019 is booking strongly already. It’s ahead of where we were this time last year,” Stuart said.

“We’ve more than doubled the business out of Australia, and I think we can double it again.”

But that business isn’t just Aussies cruising out of Australia – Stuart said more and more Aussies are choosing to cruise out of other countries, too.

“They’re cruising out of the ship in Hawaii, they’re cruising on the ships in Europe, they’re cruising on the ships in Alaska, and that’s how we like it. We don’t want Australians just cruising out of Australia, we like it when they fly further afield to some of the other ships in the fleet,” he said.

Which leads Stuart to his next point: no matter how many activities, dining options or entertainment a ship has on board, the destination will always be paramount to the cruising experience.

“Destination is critical. We’re going to continue to innovate as an industry and do things that are different and new.

“Gone are the days where it can just be ‘okay’ because you’re on a ship. Any element has to be as good as anything else we do,” he said.

That’s one of the main challenges for the cruising industry – remaining new and exciting for customers.

“Every industry has its challenges and cruising is no exception. I think, as a business, we’ve done a good job at predicting what’s coming and investing in the experience, investing in the technology and investing in ships to really continue to keep the consumer excited and continue to deliver an experience that’s better than it was last year,” Stuart said.

And as for the competition?

“The beauty of our industry is that there are a lot of innovative leaders here who are doing things that are exciting and new and different, and we put pressure on each other to continue to make the experience better, to deliver things that you wouldn’t have expected on a ship yesterday,” Stuart said.

“I think the Norwegian brand’s been at the forefront of that, whether it’s entertainment or putting racetracks on ships.

“We’ve got to keep doing that because land experiences are doing that, other cruise experiences are doing that, and that’s why the industry’s growing.”



SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

Virtuoso uncovers key differences in how each generation travels

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are conducting our own research to tap into the zoomer market by teaching the office dog TikTok dances. It’s not going well.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Royal Caribbean Group completes its comeback with all ships back at sea

To honour the milestone, all 63 ships in the group’s fleet sounded their horns at once, which most likely scared the sh*t out of nearby fishing boats and unsuspecting wales across the world.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Virgin teams up with Flight Centre for money-can’t-buy workshop

It’s the second time a Flight Centre partnership has come up this week and it’s only Tuesday! Skroo must be feeling extra convivial this week.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

“It’s more like a bribe”: Unions slam Qantas’ $5,000 ‘thank you’ payment

Speaking of bribes, if anyone would like to bribe us with an all-expenses-paid trip to Japan we promise to give you a good review on TripAdvisor.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Solomon Islands to reduce mandatory quarantine

Good news for those looking to travel across the Pacific Islands! Not so good news for those who enjoy being confined to a hotel room for days on end.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Oakwood solidifies Aussie presence with full opening of Melbourne luxury property

Looking to treat yourself? Don’t get a chocolate at the shops, book yourself a stay at the new Oakwood property in Melbourne (or do both)!

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Flight Centre signs landmark agreement with Rex as pilots prepare for industrial action

While seemingly struggling to win popularity among its pilots, the regional carrier has turned to its agency partners for reassurance.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Princess reveals The Real Love Boat crew, celebrates ‘Top Gun Agents’

Say a prayer for the poor souls tasked with wrangling a ship full of reality dating contestants hell-bent on getting frisky at sea.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

How your clients can skip the rebound chaos with South America

Got clients keen to travel but hoping to avoid inflated prices and hoards of European Summer revellers? We’ve got the answer for you.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Events

Top 12 unmissable events for Italian summer trips

Summer in Italy means sunshine, gelato, promenading after dinner, Aperols overlooking the ocean, hiking, cycling…and a jam-packed events calendar.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Airport queues return in anticipation of the school holidays

If you were looking for a good chance to relisten to Led Zeppelin’s entire discography but can’t find the time, we recommend booking a flight to literally anywhere from Sydney or Melbourne airport this month.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Queensland government mulls tourism tax

In response to this, the NSW government will be introducing an ice-cream tax, which has infuriated primary school kids across the state.

Share

CommentComments