The reason behind the cancellation of the Norwegian Spirit cruise ship’s 2024 Alaska season has been revealed. Over the past months, there has been a lot of speculation, ranging from full ship charters and even some saying Norwegian Cruise Line would sell the Leo-class cruise ship.
That the Norwegian Spirit has been chosen for operations in Asia is, in fact, not surprising. Initially built for the Asian cruise market for Star Cruises, the vessel sailed in Singapore, Hong Kong, and South-East Asia between 1998 and 2004.
Relocation to Asia
Taiwanese media have revealed that Norwegian Spirit will operate in Asia between June and September 2024. This is instead of the Alaska cruises Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled in that period in May of 2023.
A Taiwanese tour company, Lion Travel, has chartered the vessel and will operate cruises around Taiwan in cooperation with Norwegian Cruise Line.
Norwegian Spirit will embark on its first voyage out of Keelung in June of 2024. Although some sources, particularly in the Taiwan media, have referred to the ship as the Norwegian Endeavour, official communications from Lion Tours and Norwegian Cruise Line maintain the name Norwegian Spirit.
The term “Norwegian Endeavour” may be a name used specifically for the charters or may be a mistranslation. It seems reasonably certain that Norwegian Cruise Line will not be renaming the cruise ship for the Asian market.
Boost for the Asian Cruise Market
Taiwan’s geographical position connecting Northeast and Southeast Asia offers a strategic advantage, making it an enticing prospect for the Asian cruise market.
The partnership between Lion Travel and Norwegian Cruise Line aims to make Taiwan an attractive destination for cruise travel.
Wang Wenjie, chairman of Lion Travel: “Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is one of the top three cruise groups in the world, and its Norwegian Spirit will launch 26 trips to Keelung and Kaohsiung from June next year. The Norwegian Spirit, which was renovated during the outbreak at a cost of 100 million U.S. dollars, has been sailing regularly between Canada and the United States, New Zealand, and Australia since last year, and this will be the first time that it sails to Asia.”
Similarly, Jason Krimmel, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Director of Sales and Marketing, expressed that Asia, particularly Taiwan, has always been an important source market for the cruise line.
The strong recovery of Taiwan’s cruise market and the enthusiasm of Taiwanese travelers for cruise travel were significant factors in choosing the Keelung and Kaohsiung twin homeports for their return to the Asian market in 2024.
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Jason Krimmel, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Director of Sales and Marketing: “Asia has always been an important source market for Norwegian Cruise Line, and the strong recovery of the Taiwan cruise market, coupled with the optimism of Taiwan travelers’ love for cruise travel, has led Norwegian Cruise Line to choose the Keelung and Kaohsiung twin homeports as the first stop for its return to the Asian market in 2024.”
Besides Norwegian Cruise Line, other cruise operators have expressed interest in Taiwan as a cruise hub. Resorts World Cruises sails from the island regularly, and Seabourn, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas all have calls scheduled.
Norwegian Spirit Itineraries
Lion Travel and Norwegian Cruise Line are jointly launching a series of itineraries aboard the Norwegian Spirit. These include 26 voyages ranging from 3 to 9 days, from June to September 2024. Destinations include Fukuoka, Hakata, and Kagoshima in Japan, South Korea, and ports in Taiwan.
Lion Travel has revealed that, after the Norwegian Spirit arrives in Taiwan, the ship will significantly increase the provision of Chinese language services and collaborate with local Taiwanese food and beverage brands to offer guests more culinary diversity.
Launched in 1998 as SuperStar Leo, Norwegian Spirit sailed in Asia for the first six years of her life at sea. First operating from Singapore, she later repositioned to Hong Kong, sailing to China, Vietnam, and the South China Sea.
In 2004, Norwegian Cruise Line took possession of the 75,904 gross tons cruise ship and renamed her Norwegian Spirit.