A number of initiatives are underway to build Norfolk’s cruise business, according to Stephen Kirkland, executive director of Nauticus, which oversees cruise operations in Norfolk.
Among them is the hiring of Katie Elder, a new cruise operations and marketing director tasked with working directly with the port’s cruise line partners.
“Norfolk is very focused on growing its port-of-call business. We were delighted to welcome TUI for the first time in 2016,” said Kirkland. “That’s been a real highlight, working with a new port partner over a series of calls.”
For both TUI and AIDA, the port has worked to ensure bicycle excursions go smoothly, helping to recruit German translators, and also working with the local community on bike lanes.
He still has his eyes on Bermuda, however, as Norfolk would fit right into deployment to the island as a homeport.
“It just makes sense,” Kirkland said. “We’re so close to Bermuda, right at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, and within driving distance of a huge portion of the mid-Atlantic,” he continued.
“On the transit call side, we’ve found European passengers to be a real niche. They love the history and culture here in Virginia and also appreciate the walkable downtown.”
Among excursion highlights: Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown.
“We’re in the heart of the mid-Atlantic,” Kirkland said. “The source market is huge. Specifically though, we’re the closest drive-to port for Raleigh, Durham, and other huge population centers in North Carolina. That’s a major advantage. Our goal is, and always has been, to grow prudently. We want these partnerships to truly be mutually beneficial.”
Get an in-depth, behind the scenes look at the North America cruise market and the ports that make it happen in the 2017-2018 Winter edition Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine. Subscribe today.