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Norwegian returns to Asia with newly-refurbished Norwegian Star

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Norwegian Star, en-route from India to Sri Lanka, is Norwegian's first ship in over a decade to be deployed in Asia
'After more than a decade, Norwegian Cruise Line is positioning a ship in Asia and would like to leverage on this to show Asian-based travel agents what the NCL experience is,' Felix Chan vp sales for Asia, told Seatrade Cruise News from his Hong Kong office earlier today.

Norwegian Star is currently en-route from India to Sri Lanka. The 91,740gt vessel will then head to Southeast Asia and onto North Asia.

The brand is deploying the newly-refurbished Norwegian Star to Asia, bringing more than 2,300 international tourists to Hong Kong and Sanya during each of its 11- and 14-day cruises.

Chan, who is just back from meeting with travel agents in Mumbai and hosting ship tours, reported that the response is very encouraging. 

'India is already one of our top markets in Asia and fastest growing segments for our contemporary NCL brand,' he remarked.He describes the Indian outbound market as comprising couples in their 30s and 40s who bring along their children, especially during the April to June school holiday season.  

Besides cruises in Europe and Alaska, Indian agents are also successfully packaging 3 and 4 night cruises in the Caribbean before or after guests visit Disneyland in Florida. Chan said they are increasing their staff numbers to support agents in India.

Chan concedes sales out of Southeast  Asia are just beginning to pick up - but growing fast. He explains that for the current sailings many of the passengers onboard are 'on long sailings who want to explore Asia'.

11 nights is about the minimum, with some onboard for three weeks or so, he added.

Compared to the other cruise lines already in the Southeast Asian market, Norwegian is new on the scene, with its Singapore office set up only earlier this year.

Many of the local agents already know Norwegian from the days it was majority-owned by Star Cruises, and have been selling its products for other market, Chan remarked.

Now Norwegian is making bigger commitments in Asia, it is planning to meet with agents in the region next month, to help them better understand the products so that they can better drive promotions, Chan said. 'The brand will also be making some announcements for the market then.'

On January 16, 2017 Norwegian Star will head out from Hong Kong to Sydney on a 21-night repositioning. After sailing to Auckland  in February, the vessel will sail to Singapore and then on to Dubai in March 2017.  

Earlier this year company announced plans to operate Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line ships in China in 2017, including 3,850 passenger Norwegian Joy, targetted for the China source market and based in Shanghai from June 23, 2017 on three, four, five and six night sailings to japan and Korea. It will also cruise from Tianjin.

In February 2017, Oceania will deploy 684-passenger Nautica in Asia, along with sister ship Insignia in March 2017. Regent Seven Seas completes the company’s deployment in March 2017, with the 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager spending the spring season in Asia. To support its Chinese expansion, Norwegian has also opened offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.