Travel insights from Luke Gibson, director of VAX VacationAccess

Norwegian Cruise Line – Free at Sea Winning Over Agents and Their Clients

I recently had the good fortune of listening in on a mainstage interview at Cruise360 with Camille Olivere, Norwegian Cruise Line’s perennial frontwoman and senior vice president of sales for the brand.

One of the key takeaways from listening to the travel agent audience’s reaction was in response to the brand’s Free at Sea program. Norwegian’s Free at Sea promo has taken all-inclusive sea experiences to a new level. It’s Norwegian’s most successful promotion and also one of its longest-running promotions in the company’s history. Why? Agents love it and so do their customers. With so much value packed into the price of the ticket, it’s pretty hard to argue that there isn’t a lot more included than some other cruise experiences. 

So what’s in it for agents and why is it so popular?  “What we are seeing now is that guests are really wanting to feel like they are getting something for free,” said Camille Olivere, senior vice president of sales at Norwegian. “And because we are known at Norwegian Cruise Line for freedom and flexibility, as an agent you have a lot of options. If you’re booking an inside state room you have one option, and as you’re booking all the way up the room classes to the suite level and haven, you have all five options as add-ons.” For all Pride of America sailings through April 2019, agents can choose one of five free offers for Studio, Inside, Oceanview and Balcony staterooms – or book a Suite and get all five.

Free unlimited open bar is the most popular option (a classic no-brainer pick, in my opinion) but at $623 average per person value, that’s a heck of an add-on for agents when selling cruise to their customers. Free shore excursions, free specialty dining and free onboard Wi-Fi are also available. Free friends and family is available on over 400 sailings for the brand. When Olivere was asked about this promotion she said in jest, “it’s not offered while the kids are out of school so we like to call it the ’naughty parents’ promotion.”  Adding value at the point of sale is a big win for agents and free friends and family is one big time value.

The Free at Sea promotion will be available on Norwegian’s newest ship, Bliss, which we recently shared news about. The hull of Bliss also features artwork by renowned wildlife artist Wyland which is beautiful but also reinforces the brand’s commitment to marine life and wildlife preservation. Norwegian celebrates the environment around us through onboard and in port programs and give-back programs that customers can participate in, with focuses on sea turtle conservation, sea bird initiatives and many more. That earth-conscious positioning is yet another value you can sell when matching your customers to the right cruise product.

Norwegian Bliss is launching four inaugural voyages this week in New York, Miami, LA and Seattle and she will be sailing starting June 2nd for Alaska itineraries, and fall season cruising to the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles.  In winter of 2018, she will sail the Caribbean from Miami, and in the 2019 fall/winter season, she will cruise from New York City to Florida, the Bahamas and Caribbean.

About the Author

Luke Gibson Headshot

With more than 18 years of business experience in brand marketing, media and sales development, Luke has tackled issues across multiple categories of business including travel, automotive, technology, luxury retail, media, e-Commerce and manufacturing. His breadth of experience across consumer direct, wholesale and e-Commerce distribution channels makes him an effective omni-channel thinker.  Luke currently serves as Managing Director of VAX VacationAccess.

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