Norwegian Cruise Line Holding’s strong 2018 fourth-quarter performance – and the resulting Wall Street approval – may mean good news for the cruise line’s stakeholders, but bad news for cruise fans hoping to sail aboard NCL at bargain prices.
Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of the Norwegian parent company (which owns Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises, as well as NCL), said in an earnings call last week that the cruise line will raise prices this year. According to the company’s quarterly conference call with investors, Del Rio’s belief in higher fares was buoyed by “stronger-than-anticipated demand and robust onboard spend across all three brands.”
“So we’re focusing on price. We’re pushing price higher everywhere we can both in 2019 and 2020,” Del Rio stated. “While we still have a lot of cabins to fill, the emphasis will be on raising prices across all three brands.” He also noted that “Despite stock market volatility, fear of trade wars, Brexit uncertainty, and other short-term disruptions such as the recent government shutdown, our indications are that consumers remain confident in both the short and long term.”
Del Rio attributed a large part of the company’s 2018 financial growth to the fact that NCL debuted three 4,000-passenger ships — Norwegian Bliss, Joy, and Encore — within the past 18 months. The addition of these three mega-ships increased Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ fleetwide capacity by almost 25%.
“Bliss’ stellar performance to date is well documented,” Del Rio said, “and Norwegian Encore continues to be the best booked and highest-priced Caribbean-introduced ship in the Norwegian brand’s history.” Del Rio also noted that Norwegian Joy is “booking well and at higher prices compared to the smaller vessels she replaced.”
Del Rio emphasized ship refurbishments as well as new-builds, noting that Joy is currently undergoing extensive renovations prior to joining Bliss in sailing Alaskan itineraries.
Norwegian Sky, one of NCL’s older vessels, recently emerged from her facelift, Del Rio said, “I just walked through the day after she came out of dry dock. She literally is as good as new.”
Norwegian’s head honcho concluded that “That’s something that is core to our strategy of offering consumers the very best product possible, and we can see that consumers are willing to pay for it.”
There’s no word from the company yet on the specifics of the price increases, although Norwegian has reportedly tested a new “Premium Plus Beverage Package” for $128 per day (before 20% gratuity is included).
What do you think of the potential fare increases? Will you still book with Norwegian? We’d love to hear your take on cruise line pricing in the comments below.