Success Of Bliss Drives NCL’s Big Deployment Changes
NCLH stock soared by 5.40% yesterday as a strong booking report and significant changes to 2019/2020 deployment resonated with the marketplace.
The big news, reported earlier, involved moving Norwegian Joy from the China market to the North American market in 2019, starting with Alaska next April and followed by Mexican Riviera sailings out of Los Angeles once the Alaska season finishes.
In an interview with Cruise Week, NCL President/CEO Andy Stuart credited the success of Norwegian Bliss as the key factor in that change.
"I've been here thirty years, and I have to say the Bliss introduction was far and away the most successful from every metric I can think of," he said.
"The ship has been on sale for a while, and we've watched it just outperform everything we've ever done from a new ship launch perspective. Clearly, Alaska was ready for a brand-new ship."
Stuart says the extensive Bliss introduction tour is paying off. "The beauty of this is it's pretty easy for us to communicate because we've already invested more in launching these ships than any other ship in our history," said Stuart. "A lot of travel partners have seen Norwegian Bliss.
Their positive reaction is one reason that NCL is confident it can fill approximately 8000 beds every weekend from Seattle next summer. "It's the quality of the capacity," explained Stuart.
He expects that similarities between Bliss and Joy will also help in the sales process. "They really are going to look the same," said Stuart. "They both have race tracks. When travel agents are recommending a cruise to Alaska, they know they've got a very consistent experience sailing both weekend days."
The other thing this change allowed Norwegian to do was to expand capacity in Europe. "We've seen very strong demand for European cruises," he reported. "Putting two new ships to Alaska allowed us to release Norwegian Pearl to sail to Europe."
That led to other changes. "The next domino effect is it allowed us to expand our capacity in Australia and Asia with Norwegian Jewel and ultimately Norwegian Jade and Norwegian Spirit," he continued. "We're also retaining a position in the important China market. The change with Joy really allowed us to meet a lot of different objectives with one move.”