This month LATTE has profiled The Haven by Norwegian, the high-end product offering of Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), examining the service, facilities and staterooms.
The Haven certainly isn’t a new luxury offering for NCL; next year marks 10 years since its inception after debuting on Norwegian Epic in 2010. But over that time, the product has evolved, expanded and been fine-tuned. The most recent adaption launched on Norwegian Bliss 12 months ago and a revamped version on Norwegian Jewel was revealed last year. Come November, the brand new Norwegian Encore will also offer something to look forward to with The Haven.
Vice President of Sales for Australia and New Zealand, Nicole Costantin admits that the take-up from the Australian market in the early days was slow as NCL worked on positioning the product.
“We had to get our message across to the trade that we now offered a luxury solution for guests and it was completely different from what they would have seen on other ships; it was all-encompassing.”
“Particularly with the last few ships, and since NCLH’s [Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’] acquisition of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, we wanted to compare how those cruise lines defined luxury and our points of difference.”
We asked Costantin what’s the secret to selling The Haven. Here is her response.
“I don’t think it’s a difficult step for travel advisors to entice clients to the Haven. It’s certainly a price point difference and it’s certainly a different level of luxury.
“We’ve found many times that guests on board our ships approach the front desk to say they were never made aware of The Haven. “What is it?” they ask. This comes up at every one of our sales meetings. Our ship concierges tell us the same thing every sailing. Guests often find out about The Haven too late.”
“I think many times agents are afraid to tell their clients that they can have a standard balcony cabin for $5,000 on one of our ships, whereas the entry price to The Haven in a Spa Suite is around $12,000 and that comes with all the bells and whistles.
“It is that next step up but it’s still less than most of the luxury ships – that have half of the experiences, restaurants and entertainment than our big ships – offer.”
“I believe there are some cases with past cruisers who have traditionally done the big contemporary ships, some find the size of the ship intimidating, going to a smaller ship where they are a lot more visible. Whereas with The Haven you still have the big ship experience if you want it. You still have all the choice if you want it. But you also have that very VIP treatment.”
“But I appreciate that there is a difference. I’ve been on Oceania. I’ve been on Regent, so I see this beautiful, exclusive product. Having said that, I’ve also taken Lisa [Pile] and Steve [McLaughlin] from our sister-brands Regent Seven Seas and Oceania Cruises into The Haven to show them what NCL offers and they were wowed and didn’t expect it. And that’s what many people also say: I didn’t expect this.”
Quizzed by LATTE if NCLH has seen guests transition from the Regent and Oceania brands to NCL’s The Haven, Constantin says the product appeals to guests of both cruise lines who want to travel with families and with friendship groups that enjoy luxury but want to do it with extended family.
“Whether they’ve got kids or not, or whether that’s six or seven people in their 40s and 50s. It’s that age group that wants the entertainment and the dining options, and they don’t want to sit there and listen to somebody play Elton John one night and then Billy Joel the next. It’s having that choice.”
“We have many coming from other cruise lines that are looking for The Haven’s level of luxury.”
Costantin says her goal at Virtuoso education sessions to raise awareness of The Haven is to leave with some luxury travel sellers saying: ‘I didn’t know that Norwegian did that’.
How to upsell clients to The Haven by Norwegian
“If you are looking at a price point, our top suite for example for a week on Epic in Europe for two people is around $20,000. But that includes all drinks, all meals, Butler and Concierge service and VIP treatment throughout. Everything is fully inclusive.”
“The Haven is for those people that are taking the next step. They’ve done the suites on all the contemporary style of ships and now they are moving up. They’ve got some extra cash, or they’re not taking the kids anymore. It’s just them and they still like to have all that choice but now they’ve got that exclusivity.”
“It’s about us getting the message out there and agents not being afraid to realise that their clients probably have the money and they would probably like to be offered The Haven, or for you to at least think they have that money, so you are offering it to them.”
“We have a lot of people that would never have ever thought of travelling luxury, that will travel in The Haven.”
She says it’s key for travel advisors to avoid bundling Norwegian Cruise Line into the “mass-market cruise ship thing”.
“We’ve spent a lot of money on very new ships, refurbishing them. We’ve spent multi-millions of dollars on our 10 top ships. Our President, Frank Del Rio, has a theory that every guest that walks on, he wants them to have that new-ship smell.
“The money that has been spent refurbishing perfectly good ships has been quite startling. I’ve been working with the company for 20 years and I’ve never seen such investment in the fleet in my life. It’s gob-smacking. But because of that, it’s not just your average contemporary brand. It really is an upper-level brand,” Costantin concludes.