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Cuba 'star of the show' for NCLH, capacity doubling

Frank Del Rio - New US travel rules mean going on a cruise to Cuba will be easiest way to visit. Pictured: Norwegian Sky in Havana Frank Del Rio - New US travel rules mean going on a cruise to Cuba will be easiest way to visit. Pictured: Norwegian Sky in Havana (Photo: Anne Kalosh)

Despite the recent US government policy change and a travel warning for Cuba, the destination 'remains the star of the show' for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio said Thursday.

The new travel rules issued yesterday by the Trump administration 'cleared up many of the mysteries and concerns,' the NCLH chairman and CEO told analysts during the company's earnings call.

'This is going to be very, very good for the cruise industry, and going on a cruise will be the easiest and most hassle-free way to visit the island,' Del Rio said.

Demand for Cuba is 'substantial' and NCLH is doubling the number of its sailings there in 2018, to account for 4% of the company's overall capacity.

Del Rio said the booking curve for Cuba is like that of longer, premium sailings. Typically, short cruises, like Norwegian Cruise Line's to Havana, would book very close-in.

On-board spending—primarily for Cuba shore excursions—is 'much stronger' than on NCL's Bahamas-only itineraries.

As for the US State Department's weeks-old travel warning, it sparked questions in the first week, but bookings didn't slow.

See also 'Trump's new Cuba rules not seen to impact cruising'

Posted 09 November 2017

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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