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During a recent Seatrade Cruise Global event, Harry J. Sommer, who in July will be succeeding Frank J. del Rio as president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, shared his thoughts on the future of the company. Sommer will also join the Board of Directors for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.

Norwegian Cruise Line
Harry J. Sommer, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. (Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line)

“2023 is really turning out to be a real banner year for the company. And we’ve seen the effects the pandemic mostly behind us,” said Sommer. The turning point, he said, was in early November. “It was almost like a light switch went off and people decided it was okay to travel and we’ve seen what I would call normal booking and sailing patterns since then. With the possible exception of the 75-plus [segment], the rest of the demographic is seeing a normal pattern.”

And though he mentioned at the time they weren’t quite sure if it was a “one and done thing,” the company has also seen a marked acceleration of repeat rates. “One of my favorite ways to measure repeat rates is to look at someone who traveled in a calendar year, say 2020, and then see how many of them rebooked for a trip in 2023. Those rates are double across all three brands [compared to] 2018 or 2019. So we absolutely see not just this concept of revenge travel, but also people coming back.”

Norwegian Cruise Line’s New President

Norwegian Cruise Line
David J. Herrera, President of Norwegian Cruise Line. (Photo by Norwegian Cruise Line)

Sommer also took the opportunity to introduce former chief consumer sales and marketing officer for NCL, David J. Herrera, who succeeded him as president of Norwegian Cruise Line.

When asked what would change with the new leadership, Herrera shared that while there would be a pivot, there would be no major overhaul, as he and Sommer had been working very closely on their shared vision.

“All of the strategies and all of the decisions that we’ve made up until this point we’ve done together, and we’ve positioned ourselves for a very, very successful future,” shared Herrera. “And I’m just super excited about this opportunity.”

And what role do travel advisors play in this new era for NCL? “Trade partners are critical to our success,” he stressed. “We can’t succeed without our trade partners succeeding. And our recent efforts have demonstrated that. Whether it’s the new commission structure where you don’t have to wait for your guests to sail to jump tiers or it’s NCFs—we’re the first contemporary cruise to remove NCFs—our commitment to our travel partners is not just words, it’s actions.”

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