Ramon Jacinto(far left) educating agents onboard the Norwegian Sun tour
Large balcony stateroom with full-sized sofa bed
Another surprising element for a smaller older ship - 2 pools, 4 hot tubs and plenty of open deck space
Tara Kurtz(right) of ExpediaCruiseShipCenters showcased the Sun to her guest Jami Savage
Ramon Jacinto - Western Canada's BDM for Norwegian Cruise Line - hosted 43 agents and clients onboard the Norwegian Sun in Vancouver this week for a tour and lunch. Launched in 2001, the Sun is the oldest ship in Norwegian's fleet. Ramon rightfully forewarned agents that it is not representational of the rest of the Norwegian fleet - which is newer and much larger with all the bells and whistles.
This advisory was very appropriate. A few of the agents I spoke with, who have never seen a Norwegian ship but have seen the newer ships of other cruise lines sailing to Alaska, were indeed noticing the differences onboard. Darren Hammermeister of Expedia CruiseShipCenters is one of the agents cognizant of this fact. While he agrees that the Sun cannot compete with the newest hardware out there, he does see the positive values of a comfortable ship with a great selection of dining and entertainment options.
Thus Norwegian Sun, as with any smaller/older ships, are perfect for 1sttime cruisers who have nothing else to compare it to, and therefore wouldn't notice the small scale of onboard amenities and facilities. Older ships sometimes also carry a lower price tag, since they may not be as popular as the big new ones. Another positive element is larger staterooms. I was surprised to see triple and quad staterooms with plenty of floor space many featuring full-sized sofa beds in addition to upper berths. They certainly don't build them like this any more.
Agents were also able to bring clients onboard this tour to showcase Norwegian and to introduce them to the concept of cruising. Jami Savage was the guest of Tara Kurtz of Expedia CruiseShipCenters, and it was her 1stship tour. As a mother with a young family, she is most interested in the children's program and to learn how families can enjoy a great cruising experience together. Although the Sun has a small Youth Center tucked away at the front of the ship, she was happy to hear that on larger and newer ships, the dedicated children's areas are more expansive and offer extensive programming. I hope she will be cruising with her family soon.
I am very glad that some cruise lines such as Norwegian offer consumer tours, as it is a wonderful way for agents to showcase the ship, food and service and hopefully get new business. Once clients experience this small taste of shipboard life, the sale becomes that much easier to close, especially for 1sttimers who might be timid about cruising. Bringing them onboard opens their eyes and can clarify a lot of misunderstandings and debunk myths about ships and cruising. If you live near a port city, I encourage you to contact your BDMs to inquire about consumer tours. You just might convert landlubbers into cruisers!
Enjoying lunch with Ramon Jacinto are (l-r)Kannie Lai, Heidi Ye & May Li of ExpediaCruiseShipCenters
Ming with the Marketing & Product Teams from ExpediaCruiseShipCenters headquarters - (l-r)Esther Li, Monic Dagenais, Jacky Chui, Aibie Hernandez & Cuc Nguyen