MIAMI -- Norwegian Cruise Line will launch its interisland Hawaii
initiative in July 2004 with NCL America, the new brand name under
which it will operate two U.S.-flagged ships.
In addition to NCL's first U.S.-flagged, U.S.-crewed Project
America ship, NCL will reflag the Norwegian Sky under a U.S.
registry, rename it and sail it in Hawaii under the NCL America
brand. NCL will round out its 2004 Hawaii deployment with two
foreign-flagged ships, which will include stops at Fanning Island
as part of their itineraries.
The 2004 lineup includes a new product for NCL in Hawaii: Three-
and four-day cruises, which NCL will operate from Honolulu on the
renamed, reflagged Norwegian Sky.
Andy Stuart, NCL's senior vice president of sales and marketing,
said the line plans to reach out to tour operators and wholesalers
to package the short cruises.
"There's a very strong base of agents buying Hawaii through
wholesalers and tour operators," Stuart told Travel Weekly. "We
think it's an opportunity to expand the cruise market. We're going
to have to be more creative with the three- and four-days."
NCL has distributed its current seven-day Hawaii ship, the
Norwegian Star, through Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, Stuart said.
NCL has not yet approached tour operators or local
hoteliers for short-cruise package arrangements, he said.
In 2001, NCL became the only cruise line to offer year-round,
seven-day Hawaii cruises from Honolulu, taking over a niche
previously held by American Classic Voyages.
Earlier this year, in a deal engineered by Sen. Daniel Inouye
(D-Hawaii), NCL received an exemption from federal law that
requires foreign-built ships to fly a foreign flag and include
foreign port calls in their U.S. itineraries.
NCL, which purchased the materials for AMCV's failed Project
America ships from a U.S. shipyard in 2002, is permitted to build
the vessels in Europe and operate them as U.S. ships. It also is
permitted to reflag one other foreign-built ship under a U.S.
The new deployment will increase the line's projected passenger
numbers in Hawaii by 40%, to almost 200,000 passengers, in 2004,
But practically doubling its berth space in Hawaii is no problem
for NCL, Stuart said.
"There's no question in my mind that we can fill it," he said.
"The ships are consistently full every week, and we think there's
pent-up demand for a Hawaii cruise."
The first, unnamed Project America ship, which is being
completed in a German shipyard, will begin seven-day cruises from
Honolulu on July 4, 2004.
The renamed Sky will follow with its short-cruise program
beginning Oct. 1, 2004.
The Norwegian Star, meanwhile, will continue its seven-day
Hawaii cruises until its redeployment to Alaska next April; the
Norwegian Wind will sail Hawaii year-round with 10- and 11-day
cruises featuring Fanning Island.
Stuart said offering several lengths of cruises means the line
can broaden its marketing approach and target a bigger
On that target list are honeymooners, families, an older
audience that has more time to take an 11-day voyage and Hawaii
residents who might lean toward three- and four-day trips.