Norwegian Cruise Line: Norwegian Jade in Southampton

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Bryan Johnson samples Norwegian Jade at its Southampton homeport and hears how the now all-inclusive line can attract those new-to-cruise customers


While Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent move into the all-inclusive market may not be considered ground-breaking, its new product boasts simplicity and offers a streamlined version of the traditional sale needed to sell to your customers.

The line that keeps getting repeated is that it is are now “trying to compete with land-based holidays”. Norwegian is adapting, making its products more palatable for customers who may have baulked at both cruise and its associated costs.

When I spoke to Nick Wilkinson (general manager, Northern Europe & MEA) and Christian Boell (managing director, EMEA) recently, each reiterated that they are trying to grow the market, instead of competing for existing cruisers.

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“We are a floating resort, never thinking of ourselves as a cruise ship,” says Wilkinson proudly as we share a table in Le Bistro, one of Jade’s signature restaurants which offers à la carte dining. It’s this attitude that positions Norwegian in the market alongside other premium and all-inclusive offerings for British holidaymakers, and with 18 per cent of holidays booked last year being all-inclusive, it’s justified.

Le Bistro is one of the restaurants not in the all-inclusive, a strategical move to encourage reduced queuing at some of the more popular restaurants each night. I sampled the new product on board Norwegian Jade, homeported in Southampton.

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 I enjoyed a buffet lunch in the Garden Café, the courses ranging from charcuterie and salads, to speciality Asian dining, all included within the fare. I made my way to a seat beside the pool, sipping mojitos courtesy of The Great Outdoors. What I found most attractive was the freedom offered without the need to check the proverbial watch-clock of your finances. Drinks up to £15 are now included within the product.

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While this may not suit everybody, it’s certainly a catered approach for the UK market that should help bring in sales. Norwegian has clearly done their homework by choosing to roll out the product in Germany, then the UK – two countries with a cultural preference for alcohol and no preference for unnecessary tipping. Having gratuities included is a big drawing point for UK cruisers.

Although there are higher costs initially, Norwegian has presented UK agents with the opportunity to convert your standard package holidaymaker to cruise. Its easier to understand proposition should see them reap the rewards. In fact, the challenge is just as much yours: can a simpler proposal like Norwegian’s attract new-to-cruise customers?

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