NCL eyes the MEA region
With a 51-year-old history of breaking boundaries of traditional cruising, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is now focusing on the Middle Eastern market. Nick Wilkinson, VP & MD, Norwegian Cruise Line, shares insights.
How important is the Middle Eastern market for cruising?
The Middle Eastern market has experienced significant growth over the last five years. This is due to the incredible support we receive from our travel partners across Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE who have done an amazing job in promoting cruising and opening up the market for all to enjoy.
Could you share more details on itineraries for the MEA region?
The recently revamped 2,500 passenger Norwegian Jade featuring new bars, restaurants and modern décor will sail from Civitavecchia in November 2020 and stop at the following ports of call - Piraeus, Kusadasi, Rhodes, Limassol, Haifa, Port Said, Suez Canal, Safaga, Aqaba, Salalah, Fujairah and Abu Dhabi before disembarkation in Dubai. In December, she will cruise from Dubai to Abu Dhabi, Khasab, Fujairah, Mormugao Goa, Male, Colombo Phuket, Langkawi, Penang, Port Klang before disembarking in Singapore. The 2,000 passenger Norwegian Spirit will be undergoing a bow-tostern revitalisation as part of the Norwegian Edge fleet refurbishment programme before cruising through the Middle East in March 2020. Following embarkation in Dubai, guests will stop at the following ports of call - Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and Muscat before heading to Male, Nosy Be/Nosy Komba, Port Louis, Port Des Galets, Richard’s Bay, Port Elizabeth and Mossel Bay before disembarking in Cape Town.
Have you already got agents for cruise bookings in this part of the world?
Yes, we’ve seen double-digit growth from our agents and a stark increase in the promotion and selling of our cruises in the last five years, with full distribution from leisure, MiCE and groups.
Why should agents sell the Norwegian cruises to ME travellers?
Our ships are perfect for families with children, large groups or those who want to travel solo. Our ships have up to 28 dining options, entertainment, call at 85 countries and visit over 275 ports of call.
What benefits do the agents receive?
We are proud to run a programme called ‘Partners First’ which offers support, education and sales and marketing collateral to help them understand our product and drive sales. For the first time, we are offering a 3 per cent bonus commission on new bookings made between August 8-22 on selected sailings in 2019-20.
We’ve seen double-digit growth from our agents and a stark increase in the selling of our cruises in the last five years, with full distribution from leisure, MiCE and groups