The Pride of America is sold out through October, so travel advisors need to act fast.
Travelers have shown a willingness to spend up this summer, and concerns about testing requirements are pushing travelers to stay domestic, and the Pride of America is a fairly unique cruise option because it is an entirely domestic itinerary.
The Pride of America is the only ship in the NCL fleet that has to be crewed by Americans.
On a sailing for press and travel advisors this month on one of the ship's seven-day Honolulu itineraries, the vessel sailed with 1,194 passengers, about 40% of its maximum capacity. Only two specialty restaurants were open, and reservations were hard to come by.
NCL CEO Harry Sommer said at a press conference that the issue with Hawaii wasn't with demand, but with crew. He said the Pride of America was sailing with just under 500 crew members. He said that guest capacity has been limited to 1,100 to 1,200 guests, and that they will stay at around that for the rest of the summer.
Sommer said that demand is a good problem to have, but that he wishes NCL didn't. He said that even after hiring, training and certification, it takes three or four months.
We will ramp up slowly, I hope by Christmas. He said that they would open the other restaurants, but they would not compromise the guest experience.
The Pride of America's itineraries can't be compared to those of other big-ship lines.
That is one thing that sets apart the ship and needs explaining when selling. While the vessel has never looked better, after being refurbished and looking brighter and airier than it used to, it is an older ship, built in 2005, and it is one in its class. There is no big show, casino, race cars or giant water slides on its Hawaii sailings.
Sommer said that bells, whistles and nightlife are not on the agenda. The daily rates of the Pride of America are among the highest in the fleet.
Sommer said that the ship is the most profitable in the line and that it is the only one doing proper Hawaii cruises.
No one would show up at racetracks or theater we don't think would work here.
In an interview, the vice president of sales for parent company Norwegian Cruise Line said that a seven-day Caribbean cruise can take anywhere from 35 to 40 hours in port. People interact with the ship differently when there are no days at sea.
He said that everyone is at a minimum three-hour sleep deficit. Travel advisors need to tell their clients that this is not a Caribbean cruise on another set of islands, it is a unique product and it needs to be sold as such.
This is the closest thing to an all-inclusive in the Hawaiian Islands, with hotels in Honolulu and Maui at $800 a night plus a resort fee. We are a much better value than other options.
Lloyd said that travel advisors need to focus on the value, not on the price.
A travel advisor who will do $6 million or so in revenue this year will do 80% of that from cruises. Despite not having all its venues open, the Pride of America is a great value. There are no all-inclusives in Hawaii for people who are cruisers. In seven nights, we are seeing four islands. This is your only other option.
He said it is important to match this ship to the right client.
He said that the trip was perfect for a river cruise customer. It is not Wonder of the Seas. It isn't much fun for kids. It doesn't feel like there is a lot to do at night, there is one show at 7:30 and everyone goes to bed. You have to go to the destination.