Norwegian Aqua opens for sale, region takes notice


Bookings are now open for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)’s newest offering Norwegian Aqua, which sets sail in April 2025, offering a series of seven-day Caribbean sailings from Port Canaveral.

Kevin Bubolz, NCL’s Vice President and Managing Director, Continental, Europe, Middle East and Africa, tells TTN: “When we opened her for sale a couple of weeks ago for a sailing in 2025, we had bookings from the Middle East on the first day, so there are people here who are even looking to book more than a year out.”

The latest addition to the fleet debuts the cruise line’s Prima Plus class, which is more of an evolution of the Prima class of ships rather than a revolution, Bubolz explains.

“The Prima Plus Class is about 10 per cent bigger than the first two Prima Class ships. We have added more pool deck space allowing for more deck chairs and we added a few more tweaks. While the Norwegian Prima and the newly christened Norwegian Viva ships have racetracks on top with the electronic cars, on Norwegian Aqua, we will have an Aqua Coaster. It’s like a mix of a roller coaster and water slide and it will be quite visible on the outside as well. When you go inside the ship, there will be a difference in the state rooms as well.”

Boasting NCL’s first-ever Three-Bedroom Duplex Haven Suites, Norwegian Aqua will offer all-new luxurious accommodations in the Brand’s premium keycard-access-only-complex, The Haven by Norwegian. These four two-storey spacious suites feature separate living and dining areas; three bathrooms; a sprawling balcony; and three bedrooms, of which two include a king size bed, with the master offering floor-to-ceiling windows for breathtaking ocean views.


We have increased the number of solo state rooms, which were only available as an inside cabin earlier, but now these solo cabins also come with balconies
– Kevin Bubolz



The Haven aboard Norwegian Aqua will offer the largest Haven complex in the fleet with 123 well-appointed suites, including access to an expansive, dedicated sundeck; a serene infinity pool overlooking the ship’s stern; an outdoor spa complete with a glass-walled sauna and cold room; two hot tubs; a private lounge; exclusive bar pouring rare spirits and vintages; and sweeping sea views available from every public space. Haven guests will continue to enjoy 24-hour butler service and a dedicated concierge team.

The ship will also feature the company’s latest solo stateroom expanded categories, solo inside, solo oceanview and solo balcony, offering more space and variety of accommodations to single cruisers at reduced fares that are less than the cost of paying double occupancy.

NCL is on a constant mission to improve its fleet. And that’s paying dividends – it was recently named Middle East’s Leading Cruise Line 2023 at the World Travel Awards – Middle East. It was also recognised as the World’s Leading Cruise Line 2023 and as the World’s Leading Large Ship Cruise Line 2023 at the World Travel Awards. At World Cruise Awards, it was named World’s Best Cruise Line 2023: Norwegian Cruise Line and won the title of World’s Best Cruise Ship Suite 2023 for The Haven 3-Bedroom Garden Villa - Norwegian Cruise Line.

The global cruise company continues to tap into the burgeoning demand for cruises in the Middle East. “In the Middle East market, there is so much potential of people who do land-based vacations, but haven’t considered cruising yet. We actually see the biggest growth from the new to cruise people who’ve never been on a cruise ship. So that’s a trend for us in general,” he explains.

Besides, the bookings that come from the Middle East tend to be large group sized. “Something that’s very common in this market is big family groups who take multiple state rooms, even multigenerational travel. We have increased the number of solo state rooms, which were only available as an inside cabin earlier, but now these solo cabins also come with balconies. These are priced for just one person so if you then think about the multi-generational families, that’s where it’s interesting, because sometimes you may have the need for a solo state room as you may a family member like a parent or grandparent who may want a solo state room,” he adds.

However, Bubolz admits that adventurers from this market tend to book late and as a result miss out on the best options. “The majority of our bookings on a global average is six to seven months out and this market is around 45 days or even less. That leads sometimes to just missing out. We have a lot of requests for our nicest suites, but they are usually the first to go and are sold out. With Aqua, however, when we opened her for sale a couple of weeks ago for a sailing in 2025, we had bookings from the Middle East on the first day, so there people here that are even looking more than a year out. This is something that we’d like to see this a little bit more.”

In the meantime, NCL is exploring the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) industry. “This is one of the biggest growth areas for us and it’s something that we are exploring here in the Middle East together with our partners,” he explains.

The company has been proactive over the past year. It’s been present at several trade shows including Cruise Travel Mart, The TBO Business Show and the Travel Counsellors Show. And it’s been upgrading its Norwegian Central approach.

Rebecca Ransom, Business Development Manager MEA for NCL, explains: “Along with our changing our b2b approach, Norwegian Central is now open to every single travel agent; they can just simply contact us directly sign up for a login and they can access all of the additional trade support, but without having the booking engine side of things as well.

“You can still book with one of our key partners, but they can access all of our marketing collateral. We have all our trade materials and trade flyers etc. on there, editable content, our image libraries.”

NCL’s Norwegian Central also has a training portal, says Ransom. “Agents can work their way through the training grades to PhD, which then gives them the opportunity to book their trade rates as well, their own personal cruises. What this means is that it is now open to everyone.”