Getting back to cruising this summer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s trio of restart itineraries is about ensuring the company can offer the best itineraries and give guests the opportunity to experience the vacation they want, said Katina Athanasiou, chief sales officer.
Aiming to source American guests for seven-day itineraries in the Caribbean, Norwegian looked at popular Caribbean destinations with strong airlift, and picked Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, which Athanasiou told Cruise Industry News ranked first and second.
“It was an incredibly easy decision,” she said, as the Norwegian Joy will sail seven-day itineraries from Montego Bay starting on August 7, and the Norwegian Gem will launch service from the Dominican Republic on seven-day cruises starting on August 15.
Sailing from Montego Bay, the Joy’s calls include Harvest Caye, Roatan, Cozumel and Ocho Rios. Sailing from La Romana in the Dominican Republic, the Gem will visit Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Maarten and Antigua.
A third ship positioned in Athens will most likely be full of European-sourced guests to start, Athanasiou noted, as the week-long cruises aboard the Jade will visit a different port every day.
Why is the timing right?
“We’re ready. Simply,” answered Athanasiou. “We have said from minute one that we would not come back until we are ready to deliver what we believe is not only the healthiest and safest, but also the best experiential vacation either at sea or on land. For us, we are not willing to compromise health and safety or experience.”
The trio of ships will operate under the company’s new SailSAFE program, and start out with trimmed capacity. All crew will be vaccinated and all guests will be required to have been vaccinated too.
Guests looking to go ashore will need to purchase a Norwegian Cruise Line organized excursion, and Athanasiou said she didn’t expect the shore excursion offerings to see any significant adjustments. That policy will stay in place for July and August and be reevaluated on a periodic basis.
The biggest changes aboard may come from new contactless technology, which will also help streamline embarkation and disembarkation.
“We’re not comprising on the overall vacation experience … the race track will still be open and what we are known for and what customers love they are still going to get on Norwegian.”
Also of note, Norwegian Cruise Line is launching a documentary to show its effort to relaunch service. The five-episode series debuts on April 15 at at www.ncl.com/embark and on Facebook.
More news may follow, as on Monday the company sent a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlining its plan to resume cruise operations from U.S. ports in July and asking the CDC to drop its Conditional Sail Order.