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Norwegian Cruise Line Prices on the Rise



Generally speaking, financial reports are dull unless you happen to be invested in the company being discussed or the kind of person who really, really liked math classes as a kid. But sometimes if you dig deep enough, you’ll walk away with a few insights. As it happens, we read through the transcript of Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent earnings report to see what the company’s president and CEO had to say. Here’s what we thought you’d find to be the most interesting tidbits.

1. Cuba has been good for the company.

“All three of our brands have now sailed to Havana,” reported Del Rio, adding that both the number of passengers and pricing on the trips had been “very encouraging.” And with this being a relatively new market which many people are curious about, there will be more Havana-bound sailings for the company in the years to come. In fact, they currently have 56 planned for 2018.

2. Prices are on the rise.

While circumstances conspired to create a bit of a pricing slump in certain segments last year, that no longer seems to be the case. “We have priced remaining 2017 inventory at higher prices,” the exec reported. “The expectation continues to be that pricing for new bookings for [future] sailings will moderately exceed prior-year levels.” While that’s good news for the company’s bottom lines, it means bargains will likely be tougher for cruisers to find.

3. Norwegian Bliss is selling well.

Although the earnings call was with regards to 2017, it sounded as if 2018 was looking good in certain sectors… especially where the line’s still-under-construction ship is concerned. Of Bliss Del Rio said it was “in a far better booked position” at this point than had been previous Breakaway Class ships at a similar point in their launch.

4. Norwegian Joy is going to try and make new friends.

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When the ship’s repositioning journey from Germany to China is completed, she’ll get not one inauguration but several as she does a series of one-day stops in Qingdao, Shenzhen and Hong Kong designed to introduce her to potential passengers and travel partners. She’ll also do a “VIP partner cruise with major travel agents” from her homeport of Shanghai. Her official christening will take place on June 27, led by her Godfather, Wang Leehom. And while that name may mean nothing to you, trust us… the king of Chinese pop is very well known in Joy’s new homeland!

5. Their deal with Alibaba is a game changer.

Last month, Norwegian revealed that they had formed a partnership with the Alibaba Group. If you’re unfamiliar with the name, think of it as the Chinese market’s version of Amazon. “The partnership kicked off last week with a sweepstake where lucky Alibaba customers won a special four-day preview cruise roundtrip from Shanghai on board Norwegian Joy,” shared Del Rio. “The amount of coverage and awareness that [the ship] received as a result of this campaign and new partnership was impressive.” And this will partnership will no doubt continue to help Norwegian become a major player in China, a market they are only now attempting to penetrate. “Unless you know it well, there is nothing in the U.S. that compares to it,” Del Rio said of Alibaba. “I’m told that Amazon controls 14% of the United States e-commerce. Alibaba controls 83% of China’s e-commerce.”

Translation: That’s a lot of potential passengers.

6. South Korea is a pain in the butt.

If there’s one fly in the ointment where the Chinese market is concerned, it’s South Korea. “Up through early March we were very pleased with the pace,” said the executive of sales in China. “Since then, the South Korean travel restriction has caused disruption in the cruise sector, resulting in the rearranging of itineraries throughout the industry for voyages departing from Mainland China.” While North American passengers tend to book their cruises pretty well in advance, the typical Chinese passenger often makes their vacation plans at what might be considered the last minute. As a result, it’s difficult for Norwegian to get a true read on how well the ship will do once it settles in.

Do you have a Norwegian Cruise Line book?


Carnival Cruise Line

Carnival Cruise Line Reverses Unpopular Pricing Decision



Yesterday, we reported that Carnival Cruise Line had boosted the price of their new Pixel photo packages… a decision which proved wildly unpopular. And in response to their loyal passengers complaining, Carnival has reversed the decision! There is, however, a modification being made to the program.

The New/Old Prices

“Effective today,” wrote Brand Ambassador John heald on his popular Facebook page, “Pixels pre-cruise photo packages are returning to their introductory pricing. To balance the strong popularity of the most premium package with the onboard photo center resources, there will be a cap on the number of copies guests can order of their unlimited photos to a maximum of 50 prints or 50 digital files. The other two packages remain the same.”

He added that another change would be made by popular request. “We are now making these packages available to guests onboard on embarkation day only at special rates.” Those who pre-purchased the package at the higher rate will be given an onboard credit for the difference in price. “We will also honor the original Pixels Plus Digital package for those who purchased it before today,” he added.


Pixels Digital Photo Gallery onboard Carnival Horizon

“We appreciate our guests’ feedback,” he concluded, “and are happy that we can provide the great opportunity to preserve their cruise memories with photo packages that meet their needs. So there you go!”

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Although the website had not yet been updated to reflect the change when Heald made the announcement, the original pricing on the packages was as follows, with the onboard-purchase price he mentioned listed as well.

  • Pixels: This package offers prints of 5 of your best photographs, plus 1 16” by 20” canvas portrait at a cost of $99.99. (The embarkation day price will be $119.98.)
  • Pixels Plus: With this package, you can choose as many of your favorites as you like and have them printed at a cost of $199.99. (The embarkation day price will be $239.98.)
  • Pixels Plus Digital: This option offers you all of the prints of your favorite photographs, plus a souvenir USB stick containing high-resolution digital versions of the pictures, and runs $249.99. (The embarkation-day price will be $299.98.)

Those picking the Pixels option have until the final sea day of their voyage to pick the five prints they want to have made. Passengers who purchase a package will receive a Pixels gift ticket, which will be left in their stateroom. That ticket can then be taken to the photo gallery for redemption (which must be done within two days of boarding).


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Could Free Wi-Fi Be Coming To Carnival Cruise Line?



Gone are the days when people tried to completely disconnect while on vacation. Now, one of the things cruisers look for when planning a trip is how easily they’ll be able to stay connected… and how much it will cost! But is the idea of free wi-fi for everyone on board even a possibility, given both the technical aspects and cost prohibitions? In a recent interview, a Carnival exec suggested that might not be as far-fetched as it currently seems!

Connecting The Dots

In talking to Cruise Industry News, Reza Rasoulian, Carnival’s vice president of global connectivity (aka their internet guru), addressed some of the questions and issues all of the cruise lines are currently dealing with. And make no mistake: keeping passengers connected is something that all of the major cruise lines are interested in doing for numerous reasons. Not only is it something that their customers increasingly demand, but it also creates an avalanche of free advertising as passengers use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make everyone back home jealous!

Guests want to be able to connect from wherever they are on a ship… including the Carnival Sunshine’s atrium!


“There’s a lot of great ideas out tehre,” Rasoulian told the site. “We are on a great trajectory as an industry, because we need to change the conversation and make sure connectivity isn’t a problem.”

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But could this ultimately mean putting an end to wi-fi packages in favor of access being included in the price of a cruise? “We know that there are cruise lines offering it now,” he admits, “but the ships are small, 300 guests, so that’s a whole different equation. Scale is a factor, but we need to provide a situation where there’s no friction. Maybe it will happen in five or 10 years as a collaborative process.”

Michael Bayley, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, echoed that sentiment when speaking to the press during the rollout of the line’s newest and biggest ship, Symphony of the Seas. “The theory is that over the next five to 10 years, as the technology improves, the cost of internet is going to start decreasing significantly. So I think at some point, when the cost becomes more sensible, then it will [probably be] something that will convert into free internet and Wi-Fi for our customers.”

Why Wi-Fi Is So Important

In February, Carnival Corporation tested its MedallionNet Wi-Fi on Princess Cruise Line’s Regal Princess in an effort to, as Chief Experience and Innovation officer John Padgett explained, “demonstrate that guests can have a connected experience that parallels land-based Wi-Fi.”

Over the past few years, the cruise industry has made major strides in reaching out to younger cruisers. But the executives behind the scenes know that in order to convince many gadget-addicted millennials to trade traditional land-based vacations for ones on the high seas, they must provide the kind of connectivity they demand. It’s a tall order, and one the cruise lines take very seriously… as evidenced by the fact that Carnival’s newest ship, the Carnival Horizon, even comes with a Wearable Tech outlet staffed by employees who can not only sell you the latest fitness tracking devices, but show you how to use them.

“One of the conscious decisions we continue to make is that we are not standing still,” says Rasoulian. “We want to continue to evolve.” Which would seem to indicate that when it comes to cruising, free Wi-Fi is more a matter of when than if!

Do you purchase a wi-fi package when you cruise? How important is it that you be able to stay connected to folks back home?

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Cruise News

Cunard Guests to be First to Board Queen Elizabeth 2 Hotel



Dubai will welcome the most famous ocean liners in the world when the arrival of Queen Mary 2 coincides with the opening of the Queen Elizabeth 2 hotel.

Guests traveling on QM2 will have the opportunity to join local media and VIPs at the opening of the QE2 hotel on April 18. Future guests will also be able to visit when Queen Mary 2 returns to Dubai in January and April 2019 as part of her World Voyage.

Queen Elizabeth 2 in Trondheim, Norway in 2006. – photo: Kallemax/English Wikipedia

Queen Elizabeth 2 was launched by Her Majesty the Queen in 1967 and was the Cunard flagship liner until she relinquished the role to Queen Mary 2 in 2004. She undertook 25 world cruises and crossed the Atlantic more than 800 times, carrying over 2.5 million passengers. QE2 is now owned by PCFC Hotels – part of the Dubai government’s Ports, Customs, and Free Zones Corporation and will reside permanently at Mina Rashid, Dubai.

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Visit the hotel’s website here.

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