Norwegian Cruise Line, the company that pioneered weekly cruises
from Houston in 1997, will return to its former Texas homeport in
November 2003 after a three-year absence.
In addition, the Crown Odyssey will move from the Orient Lines
fleet into the NCL fleet in September. Orient, part of the NCL
Group owned by Star Cruises of Asia, will continue to operate the
Marco Polo “for years to come,” NCL President Colin Veitch
Along with these changes, NCL is expanding its Homeland Cruising
program to include two additional U.S. homeports Baltimore and New
Orleans bringing the number of embarkation points in the country to
“Homeland Cruising has been well-received by cruisers and travel
agents alike since we introduced it a year ago, and it is now very
much the focus of our expansion plan for NCL,” Veitch said.
It’s a strategy that is working well for the company, even in
these difficult times, according to at least one industry
“The NCL brand, with more than 90 percent of cruises departing
from North American ports, saw yield increases, which suggests that
keeping ships closer to home may make for better yields than
Europe, especially given the potential for U.S. involvement in Iraq
next year,” said Robin Farley of UBS Warburg.
In a research update, Farley noted that NCL was absorbing a 29
percent capacity increase in the third quarter but was the only one
of the four major cruise operators to report higher yields.
“The NCL brand grew yields almost 2 percent while the other
three major operators reported a decline for the third quarter,”
The Norwegian Sea will operate seven-day Exotic Western
Caribbean cruises from Houston starting Nov. 8. Ports of call
include Cozumel and Cancun, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; and Belize
City, Belize. Fares will start at $399 per person, double.
Veitch said NCL chose Houston as its homeport over Galveston for
“Houston’s attraction over Galveston, from a consumer
standpoint, is that it is much closer to the population center of
Houston and the suburbs,” he said. “It is also much closer to
George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston for passengers
flying in from other parts of the U.S. and Canada.”
Veitch also noted that Houston and New Orleans are a little
easier on cruisers flying in from the West Coast.
“Consumers in the Western half of the United States won’t have
to catch the red-eye all the way to the East Coast in order to
experience a Western Caribbean Cruise,” he said.
The Norwegian Sea will undergo a multimillion-dollar renovation