With two new ships Norwegian Prima and Norwegian Viva sailing up on the horizon, 2022 is shaping up to be a packed year for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) as Asia's reopening pace picks up.
The 3215-passenger Norwegian Prima, which debuts in August 2022, is "going to elevate the whole halo effect of the brand", Braydon Holland, NCL's senior director sales for Asia told Travel Weekly Asia.
There's excitement, there's variety, and there's a lot of freedom to do the things you want to do all the things you want. And for the multi cultures of Asia I think Norwegian Prima's a perfect fit.
Already, the first Prima class ship has become the cruise line's most in-demand ship ever, attracting record bookings when the sales launched in May last year. Most recently, pop star Katy Perry has been named godmother of Norwegian Prima.
But Holland believes what will attract Asian cruise travellers most will be Norwegian Prima's abundance of amenities and space. The ship will place a lot of emphasis on open space, evident in the Ocean Boulevard, with an outdoor sculpture garden and two infinity pools, as well as alfresco dining.
In particular, the freestyle cruising that the NCL brand is known for will extend into its wide array of F&B options on board Norwegian Prima, offering guests the freedom to dine as and when they wish.
"I've been in Asia long enough to know that food's important for Asians," quipped Holland, who assumed his role with NCL last year.
"There's excitement, there's variety, and there's a lot of freedom to do the things you want to do all the things you want. And for the multi cultures of Asia I think Norwegian Prima's a perfect fit."
Norwegian Prima, which debuts in August 2022, will boast an expansive outdoor deck in the Ocean Boulevard.
Holland is also encouraged by "positive signs" that the cruise line is now seeing across Asia.
India is one bright spot, whose reopening several months back has become a driver of strong fly-cruise demand for NCL. Likewise, Singapore's VTLs has had a positive impact on fly-cruises too.
A growing pent-up demand for travel among Asian cruisers is driving the uptick in bookings for Q2 and Q3, although a segment are also booking further out into next year too, Holland shared.
But what remains unchanged is Europe's evergreen appeal as a cruise destination for Asian fly-cruisers, who are drawn to the variety of itineraries, as well as the appeal of the ports of calls and the countries visited in the continent, he added. The Mediterranean, for instance, is still a top favourite.
In Asia, the Norwegian Sun is due to arrive in Japan from October 2022 for its seasonal deployment, followed by sailings from Hong Kong and Singapore respectively.
While NCL has yet to confirm any deployment plans in Asia other than Norwegian Sun, what is clear is that Asia as a source market as well as destination will figure more prominently in the cruise line's future plans.
Travel agents, meanwhile, remain an indispensable partner for NCL, and the cruise line is doubling down on its commitment to the agent community, including having a dedicated trade portal Norwegian Central Asia, and Norwegian Cruise Line University, which offers training modules for agents.