When Norwegian Prima’s inaugral cruise season went on sale last week, it created demand never seen before in Norwegian Cruise Line’s history, and booking numbers in the Middle East were also greater than expected.
“We’ve got [Middle East] guests who have actually been booking for 2022 and a lot of inquiries for 2023,” Nick Wilkinson, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Vice President & Managing Director for the UK and Ireland, the Middle East and Africa, told Cruise Arabia & Africa.
“We always knew that demand existed,” he added, refering to Norwegian Prima’s record-breaking demand. “But one of the great things we’ve seen is greater demand in more areas than we expected, and the Middle East was the one that really surprised us because of the traditional booking patterns.”
Wilkinson was refering to Middle East passengers tendency to book cruises at the last minute, six to eight weeks before a voyage, whereas the North American and European markets book a year to two years in advance.
“It’s just great to see the way that is changing,” he said.
According to Wilkinson, much of the demand from the Middle East market was for The Haven, Norwegian Cruise Line’s ship-within-a-ship concept, offering a luxury, all-suite enclave that can only be accessed by Haven guests.
“The Haven has been an incredible success, it provides an ultra-luxury experience and aboard Norwegian Prima we’ve taken it to another level,” he said.
“We’ve actually changed the location of the Haven from the top front to the ship to the stern, so every one of the Haven suites has a sea view as the ship cruises along, All the public areas in the Haven have a view of the sea as well,” he added.
A major draw for Middle East guests, though, has been the expanded suites in The Haven.
“One of the reasons Norwegian Prima has resonated with the Middle East market isn’t just the premium quality aspect of her design, which they love, but also the size of some of the suites,” said Wilkinson.
“We have Haven suites for two, four, six up to eight people. And that’s quite a key point that for our guests across the Middle East markets,” he added.
Norwegian Prima is due for delivery in summer, 2022. She is the first of six near-identical cruise ships being built for Norwegian Cruise Line, which were formerly known as Project Leonardo, but are now called the Prima-class.
Carrying 3,215 guests at double occupancy, the 142,500-gross ton ship will be one of the most spacious in the contemporary cruise fleet, with the largest cabins and suites of any mainstream cruise line, and a number of new-to-the-line features that you can read about here.