by Leo Jakobson | May 18, 2017

Norwegian Cruise Line is one of the lines that has already visited Cuba, with its Norwegian Sky sailing into Havana Harbor on May 3 of this year. "Today is a momentous day for Norwegian Cruise Line," said Frank Del Rio, Norwegian's president and CEO, after the Norwegian Sky docked. Speaking of Cuba's "natural beauty, warm people, and historical treasures," he added, "we were welcomed by the Cuban people with open arms and excitement to share their incredible culture with our guests."

Aside from the destination's high desirability, Norwegian's Miami-to-Havana voyages have another benefit for incentive programs: time. The line is planning more than 50 four-day visits this year, all but a few of which will stay overnight in the capital city of Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The trips by Norwegian Sky -- which is an all-inclusive vessel, beverages included -- will also stop at Great Stirrup Cay, Norwegian's private island in the Bahamas.

Silversea boasts many onboard restaurants

Silversea is another line that can tailor voyages to incentive groups, which generally do full charters of its smaller vessels. "We are able to carve out itineraries, and adjust to five-to-seven nights," says Freddy Muller, vice president and head of corporate and incentive sales of Silversea.

And an increasingly popular cruise port in the Caribbean is San Juan, Puerto Rico, says Patrick Bralick, corporate sales manager, North America, for Celebrity Cruises, which just reintroduced four- and five-night itineraries in the region. He notes that San Juan's central location allows cruise ships to stop at destinations not reached by the traditional North or South Caribbean itineraries such as St. Martin, St. Kitts, and Tortola.

Silversea Cruise Line finds enough
interest in "explorer" destinations
like the Galapagos and Antarctica
to support four ships

Cruise destinations reflect this trend. Ultra-luxury line Silversea Cruises has found that "expedition" destinations, ranging from Alaska to the Galapagos to the Arctic and Antarctic, have grown in popularity to the point where it has four ships outfitted and dedicated to these trips, says Muller. While the luxury remains, these smaller ships allow passengers to get closer to the glaciers or board small Zodiac rubber boats to watch whales with expert guides.

Norwegian Cruise Lines -- which turned 50 last year --is also catering to the adventure theme. Next year, it will launch the first new-build vessel on the Seattle-to-Alaska route, Norwegian Bliss, which accommodates more than 4,000 guests.  

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This article appears in the May/June 2017 issue of Incentive.