Norwegian Joy readies for Chinese entry with Singapore stop

As the 3,883-guest Norwegian Joy last weekend pulled into Singapore, a month ahead of its first sailings in China, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) shared that it is pursuing more than just a numbers game in China, with market understanding and brand loyalty also key to its strategy.

“It’s not our aspiration to be the largest brand in China, we just want to be the best… (the Norwegian Joy) builds on what’s been done to open up the Chinese market over the past years, providing a product that will resonate well with Chinese consumers,” said Harry Sommer, NCLH’s executive vice president, international business development.

NCLH’s partnership with Alibaba, which was announced earlier this month, is expected to not only widen the cruise line’s reach among consumers in China, but also deepen its understanding of the Chinese market.

“Alibaba controls 70-80 per cent of the online Chinese market for everything from paper towels to Maseratis and everything in between. The sheer amount of consumer data they have makes them a force to be reckoned and a partner that helps us understand consumer tastes, what drives purchase decisions, tailor marketing and sales messages and make onboard products valuable.”

NCLH’s senior vice president and managing director for Asia-Pacific, Steve Odell, cites customer loyalty as a “critical part” of NCLH’s larger business and will continue to be so as the company enters China.

In fact, past guests can make up 60 per cent or more of demand, according to Sommer.

The new ship was unveiled in its entirety for the first time last Saturday, as 800 guests in Singapore – including media, travel agents and their customers – were introduced to onboard features such as a Ferrari-branded go-kart track, gaming arcade, 28 dining options and retail brands counting Apple, Cartier, Bulgari and Starbucks.


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