NCL's Pride: A fresh product to take to market

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HONOLULU -- The coming of Norwegian Cruise Line's Pride of America and Pride of Aloha to Hawaii next year opens up a new way to package Hawaii.

"Cruise and stay" programs, offered on NCL's three- and four-day interisland itineraries, will give agents a fresh product to sell to travelers looking for a different combination of experiences.

The ships will start sailing in Hawaii waters in the summer of 2004.

These ships will fly a foreign flag and will not need to visit a foreign port, which means the ships will spend 96 hours in the islands on a seven-day cruise rather than the current 45 hours, giving passengers more time for shore excursions and shopping and the opportunity for land stays.

With NCL estimated to bring 400,000 passengers to Hawaii by 2006, the impact on state tourism will be significant, according to Andy Stuart, NCL's vice president of marketing and sales. Purchases of hotel rooms through NCL alone will amount to $16 million by 2006, he said.

Stuart outlined the economic impact of NCL's new plans to retailers, wholesalers, tourism officials and airline representatives at Travel Weekly's annual Leadership Conference last month at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort.

He talked about NCL's ability to draw visitors from east of the Rockies and the pent-up demand for high-quality cruise products in Hawaii as opportunities for retailers.

Stuart said the shorter cruises will draw families and younger customers.

Just as NCL played an integral part in starting nonstop flights to Honolulu from Denver, Stuart said the line will continue to work with airlines to create more air seats to Hawaii. Marketing will be aggressive and "lift will play a big part," he said.

Pride of America will have open-seating main dining rooms, eight restaurants, an Internet Cafe, entertainment venues, three pools, a spa and fitness center, children's facilities and spacious public rooms.

On five decks, 80% of staterooms will have an ocean view, and 85% will include private balconies.

"Both ships will be targeted at the general cruise population in North America, but we also expect to attract conference and incentive business with the top-quality facilities that have been designed into the ships," said Colin Veitch, president and CEO of NCL.

Seven-day interisland cruises start from $899; three-day cruises begin at $499.

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