Norwegian Jewel will call Asia home in 2018 and promises to spark a marketing battle over which line offers the best value for passengers.
After spending close to six months Down Under in October next year, Jewel will offer a 40-day repositioning cruise heading to Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong and ending in Tokyo just in time for the cherry blossom season in early 2018.
Passengers can combine different itineraries from a 18-day Australia and Southeast Asia itinerary from Sydney starting on 20 February 2018, an 11-day Southeast Asian voyage from Singapore with calls at Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Long Bay and Hong Kong on 10 March or an 11-day China, Korea and Japan journey from Hong Kong on 21 March. She will stay in Japan for a series of cruises before heading back to Australia in October 2018.
Norwegian claims it will have the best food, the best service, the best onboard experience and the best “hardware.’’
Harry Sommer, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Executive Vice President of International Business Development, says her $40 million refit makes her the best on offer.
But Royal Caribbean, which is sending the billion “smart ship” Ovation of the Seas to join its fleet in Sydney, will undoubtedly be countering that claim.
Indeed, Royal Caribbean insiders told Cruise Passenger: “If they were sending a new ship, that would be a worry. But a $40 million refit is just a change of carpets and soft furnishings…”
“NorwegianCruise Line offers freedom and flexibility never before seen in Australia – Australians can now experience premium contemporary freestyle cruising much closer to home,’’ counters Summer.
In addition, Jewel will have one of the best entertainments at sea, he says – the home-grown ballroom spectacular Burn the Floor founded by Australian impressario Harvey Medcalf.
Jewel will also introduce a ship within the ship called The Haven with 24-hour butler service for passengers who book the more expensive suites. They will have access to 16 dining options from teppanyaki to the Brazlian Churrascaria with no pre-assigned seating times.
“Norwegian Jewel epitomises NCL’s flexible freestyle approach to life on board.’’
The line makes no excuses for charging more for its cruises.
“We charge $30 to $40 more than Carnival because we have the best product,’’ he added.
Steve Odell, Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific said that NCL will always be more expensive than other lines.
“We are a premium product – we give more, therefore we charge more but we are mindful of what the market will pay,’’ Mr Odell said.
Rival lines such as RCL and its mega ships like Ovation of the Seas invested in the “wow”
factor offering death-defying water slides, robot bar tenders and the North Star observation platform.
“We decided to spend money on our food, service and entertainment.
“Guests who want to do selfies will go to the Ovation, Those who want fine dining and entertainment will choose us,’’ Mr Odell said.
Pricing on Jewel’s Australian and Asia Pacific cruises will be revealed on June 29 when bookings open.