SHANGHAI — In the closing minutes of Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld China today, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio revealed to 300 Chinese travel agents — and, also in attendance, Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald, MSC CEO Gianni Onorato and Carnival Cruise Line President Christine Duffy — that Norwegian was going to build a ship “with an unrivaled level of customization specifically for the Chinese consumer."
The unnamed ship will head for an unnamed homeport “in the summer of 2017,” Del Rio said.
The ship will be the “largest and grandest” and “most innovative” in the Chinese market today,” he said. “The level of customization goes way beyond the physical design of the ship. Working with our partners in China and local experts on the subtleties of Chinese culture, [we] will provide our guests … with an overall experience that is simply not available today.”
The 4,200-passenger ship will be the second in the Breakaway Plus class, Norwegian said (the first, the Norwegian Escape, will be delivered next week, and the company has two additional ships on order). Del Rio said the China-based ship would represent “10% of Norwegian’s total worldwide capacity.”
He added that, like other recent Norwegian ships, the hull would be painted by a famous artist, but this time a revered Chinese artist.
Norwegian also said it today opened a Shanghai office in Xintiandi, which joins offices in Beijing and Hong Kong. The offices support Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Del Rio made clear that his lack of providing a list of details wasn’t because he was holding back; rather, he solicited input from CruiseWorld China attendees to help bring shape to the ship. “With much to do over the next 18 months, we will continue to seek your input and assistance in our product development and our itinerary building” to create an experience that is “authentically Norwegian Cruise Line and distinctively Chinese in all its sensibilities.”
He closed by promising that “we’ll have more to share with you in the coming months,” including a “few surprises.”