Nick Wilkinson, Managing Director of Norwegian Cruise Line UK and Ireland

Nick Wilkinson, MD of Norwegian Cruise Line UK and Ireland, talked to Jennie Carr about family fun and his wish list. 

What would you describe as Norwegian Cruise Line’s ethos as a cruise line? What makes it special?

Nick Wilkinson, Managing Director Norwegian Cruise LineWe are an innovator in cruise, with a 51-year history of breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising. Most notably, we revolutionized the cruise industry by offering guests the freedom and flexibility to design their ideal cruise holiday on their timetable with no set dining times, a variety of entertainment options and no formal dress codes.

What is it that mature travellers really enjoy on one of your ships?  Are there any specific experiences that they report as being really relevant to them?

There really is something for everyone and almost too much to choose from. If you love luxury there is The Haven by Norwegian ® a private enclave with a 24-hour butler service or for those who love to watch the world go by, the Waterfront, a quarter-mile oceanfront promenade with bars and restaurants. For those who enjoy exhilaration they can walk the plank on the Norwegian Breakaway or take ‘The Epic Plunge’ a 200-foot slide on the Norwegian Epic.

Tell me a little about the offering for larger, multi-generational family groups, we’ve got great grandpa at 85 and the little toddler of 20 months.  How will they all be entertained, fed and able to enjoy the same cruise?

From interconnecting rooms to grandparents staying in The Haven by Norwegian ® families really can tailor their holidays to suit their needs on our ships.  We offer a range of youth programs, starting with the Guppies (6 months-3 years), Splash Academy (3-12 years) and Entourage (13-17 years) to ensure that kids of all ages can have a great time, from sensory play (Guppies), to circus skills (Splash Academy) or video games, music and the hippest dance club at sea (Entourage).

Norwegian BlissAnd, when the family wants to enjoy time together, they eat together in one of our many themed restaurants, bond at bowling, play mini golf or enjoy award-winning entertainment such as Jersey Boys, Pricilla Queen of the Desert or Rock of Ages and on Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Joy, you can race each other on a two-storey racetrack!

We were also the first cruise line to introduce Premium All Inclusive, making it simpler for the whole family to enjoy their cruise with no unexpected bills to pay at the end. With PAI all premium-branded beverages, service and gratuities, 60-mintues wi-fi and a bottle of water per person per room included in the price.

Can you share any exciting innovations that Norwegian Cruise Line have in the pipeline?  What are the recent developments that you feel give Norwegian a point of difference in the large ship ocean cruise market?    

This year we confirmed that we will be building six new Leonardo Class ships with the final being delivered in 2027. These new ships will allow us to broaden our deployment to visit even more destinations, opening the market up to a wider cruise audience.

A priority of this new prototype design is energy efficiency, with the aim of optimizing fuel consumption and reducing the impact on the environment. 

Norwegian Cruise LineGiven that less than 10% of British travellers go on cruises, where would you recommend for an ideal first voyage?

For the first time, we will have six ships in Europe in 2019. This means more choices of exciting itineraries, more ports to discover and a ship to suit every need, from cruising the Baltic Sea on the Norwegian Getaway to a round trip from Southampton on the Norwegian Spirit to the Mediterranean. 

And do you have a favourite cruise destination, somewhere that always rewards visiting? 

It has to be Alaska. From whale watching to postcard views of snow-capped peaks, I never get tired of watching the changing scenery. I was fortunate enough to enjoy these views from our new observation lounge, offering 180-degree views on Norwegian Bliss earlier this year.

What about a destination you’ve always wanted to visit and have yet to get to?

Cambodia is on my bucket list, I’ve always wanted to go to there. The Norwegian Jewel as part of its 13-day Southeast Asia cruise goes to Cambodia along with a host of other amazing Asian destinations; Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore – it is definitely on my list for next year.

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