TORONTO — Norwegian Cruise Line plans to “significantly” expand its Canadian sales team, increasing from the current four to six BDMs across the country, says Andy Stuart, Executive Vice President of Sales & Passenger Services.
NCL will also appoint a director dedicated to the Canadian market. “And we will invest more marketing dollars into Canada, to drive more business from this country,” said Stuart.
Stuart met with the media last week following a travel agent event in Toronto on Wednesday. The event drew some 200 agents to the Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre Hotel.
The new Norwegian Escape makes its debut Nov. 9 in Miami, setting sail on a series of Eastern Caribbean itineraries that include Nassau, St. Thomas and new port Tortola. Norwegian Escape will replace Norwegian Getaway; that ship will move to the Western Caribbean. “So we’ll essentially have two brand new ships in the Caribbean,” said Stuart.
NCL’s renewed focus on entertainment and dining is apparent with the lineup of restaurants and other venues on Norwegian Escape. “Whenever Simon Cowell would vote someone off American Idol, he’d tell them they should go sing on a cruise ship. That made me mad. We wanted to change that perception,” said Stuart.
Norwegian Escape will offer Broadway-style productions like Million Dollar Quartet (about the famous jam session between Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash) and After Midnight (featuring dancing and the big band songs of Duke Ellington).
Dining venues include Bayamo by Jose Garces, Pincho Tapas Bar by Jose Garces, Food Republic (from Miami’s The Pubbelly Restaurant Group), Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville at Sea, The District Brewhouse serving craft beers and The Cellars featuring Mondavi wines.
Norwegian Escape will also feature more diversions for families, including an enhanced waterpark (the largest in the NCL fleet), a three-storey ropes course and two ‘Planks’ (narrow steel beams that allow passengers to walk out 180 feet over the water). The ship will also offer a new nursery for kids under the age of two.
Norwegian Escape’s upscale ship-within-a-ship, The Haven, is the largest ever, with 95 staterooms. “The luxury lines do a fantastic job, but probably not so much for families. We saw a gap in the market and we created The Haven.”
Norwegian Escape also features The Waterfront, NCL’s indoor-outdoor dining and bar district on Deck 8. “The Waterfront has been hugely popular,” said Stuart. “It connects passengers back to the ocean. That’s why people go on a cruise.”