According to Port Authority of NSW (New South Wales) and the Sydney cruise schedule, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Star features 11 bookings at Overseas Passenger Terminal in Sydney from October 7, 2017 until May 1, 2018. Isn't it enough to suggest a 6-month season in Australia? Other bookings are made in Darwin.
NCL is between the few ‘big ship’ companies that don't have a superliner based in Sydney. In 2015 the line confirmed a series of 3 sailings to/from Australia and New Zealand aboard Norwegian Star in January and February 2017.
At pre-dinner drinks with media on Oceania Marina in Sydney Harbour on Monday night, the Senior Vice President and Managing Director Asia Pacific of parent company NCLH, Steve Odell, said:
“It's not in our short term plan to put a ship here. We are bringing Norwegian Star for a season of four months [to Asia, Australia and New Zealand] starting in November this year but we don’t have a definitive plan to have a homeport here at this point. It’s on our radar screen, of course, because we wouldn't be investing here if we didn't have bigger ambitions.”
Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings encompasses NCL, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. It has made a huge investment Down Under over the past few months, opening a call centre and an office in Sydney and employing over 40 staff. From April 1, a broader scale of local travel agents will be selling its cruises.
NCL has opened sales offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, to be followed by Mumbai, New Delhi, Tokyo and Singapore. Next year the company enters Chinese market with a new ship customised especially for the travellers in China. According to Odell:
"Expanding to Australia and Asia was a necessary move, with 45,000 beds to fill in 22 ships across the three lines, and six new ships launching from 2015 to 2019. That’s a 40 per cent growth in capacity so you can see why we’re investing internationally, especially when the main North America market is not growing at this rate.”
A further investment of US$525 million was committed to upgrades of all existing ships over 2 years, so that “every ship looks like a brand new ship”.
“It’s a very exciting journey, there are so many opportunities for us here. I can only see us getting bigger and bigger in Australia.”