THE MARINE LOG FEATURES CALENDAR FOR 2003
May 7, 2003
NCL launches its U.S.-flag brand
Star Cruises' Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) unit yesterday announced its new U.S.-flag brand--NCL America--under which all of its U.S. flagged, U.S .crewed ships will operate.
In addition, the company has developed its largest Hawaii deployment ever, with two NCL America ships sailing inter-island cruises and two NCL ships sailing Hawaii/Fanning Island itineraries.
Though the itineraries and the crews will be very different, the common theme across all four ships is NCL's trademark Freestyle Cruising, which it describes as "still the only completely flexible resort-style cruise experience among the major lines."
The new deployment will take NCL's projected passenger carry in Hawaii to almost 200,000 in 2004, a 40 percent increase over 2003.
NCL's first Project America ship, yet to be named and known internally as PA1, will be the first new ocean-going passenger ship in nearly 50 years to sail under the American flag.
It will begin service in Hawaii in July 2004, offering seven-night inter-island cruises round trip from Honolulu.
The second Project America ship, known internally as PA2, will be a reflagged existing NCL ship. The ship is currently Norwegian Sky, a modern 2,000-passenger ship that was the first NCL ship to offer Freestyle Cruising when it was introduced in 2000.
Re-flagged into the U.S. register, it will be 100 percent U.S. crewed and will begin its Hawaii service in October 2004, offering three- and four-night inter-island cruises round trip from Honolulu.
Starting prices on the NCL America ships will be at the same level as the attractive pricing used in successfully launching Norwegian Star in Hawaii in 2001. Seven night cruises begin at $899 per person; three-night cruises begin at $499 per person. PA1, Norwegian Wind and Norwegian Star bookings are on sale now for 2004 and spring 2005 bookings and group space. PA2 bookings will go on sale on Friday, May 9th.
"Our ships will offer a unique Hawaii experience with the great majority of the crew hailing from the islands," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL. He added that "In the next few months, we will announce partnerships with key Hawaii organizations who will partner with us on board and add to an authentic experience of Hawaii that will only be available on NCL and NCL America ships."
The combined NCL and NCL America 2004 Hawaii deployment offers a wide range of cruises encompassing three-, four-, seven-, 10-, and 11-day cruises that feature something for everyone.
"Guests on our seven day inter-island cruise will spend over 90 hours in port including overnight stays in Maui and Kauai," Veitch said. "And we will launch the only three- and four-day cruise program in Hawaii, offering both cruise-only and a variety of cruise-and-stay hotel packages.
"Both ships will be targeted at the general cruise population in North America but we also expect to attract conference and incentive business with the top quality facilities that have been designed into the ships," he added.
According to Veitch, NCL will also continue its popular calls at Fanning Island, Kiribati on longer Hawaii cruises.
"Norwegian Wind will return to Hawaii in May of 2004 and resume its successful 10- and 11-day itineraries," Veitch said. "From then on, the deployment will be year-round rather than seasonal as in the past."
The 10- and 11-day cruises are designed to offer a relaxed, longer cruising experience with lots of port time in the Hawaii Islands plus sea days and a trip to Fanning Island, NCL's Pacific Island hideaway just north of the Equator.
Norwegian Star will continue offering its seven-day Fanning Island cruises through April 2004 when it will then make way for the new seven-day inter-island cruises offered by PA1. Norwegian Star will move to NCL's mainland based Homeland Cruising fleet offering Alaska cruises in the summer of 2004.
NCL America's two U.S. flagged Hawaii ships will provide what are claimed to be the "best meetings and conference facilities at sea." Additionally, the deployment in Hawaii is a unique opportunity for meeting planners with three, four and seven day cruises available every week of the year. Planners can book a full week's cruise or alternatively book a three or four day cruise with the option to combine the cruise with a hotel stay to accommodate a variety of meeting lengths.
As the only U.S. flagged ships sailing the Hawaii islands and visiting only U.S. ports, conferences and meetings on board NCL America ships qualify for both corporate and individual tax deductibility for meetings expenses.