“Cruising’s Best Kept Secret” – Exclusive Interview with NCL’s Gary Anslow

Northern Ireland Travel News caught up with Gary Anslow, Senior Director of Sales UK and Ireland at Norwegian Cruise Line

By Erin English, Junior Journalist


During the Big Travel Trade Event, Northern Ireland Travel News caught up with Gary Anslow, Senior Director of Sales UK and Ireland at Norwegian Cruise Line to gain insight into what post-covid recovery looks like for NCL.

What does post-covid recovery look like for NCL?

“It looks really positive, we’ve got seventeen ships sailing. We were the first major cruise line, under NCL corporation to bring all of our fleet back. Of course, it’s been challenging for the industry. It’s been challenging for suppliers, it’s been challenging for travel agents. But the post recovery period, I think is looking really positive. We’ve got nine ships in Europe, this year. The most we’ve ever had. Occupancy is looking really strong. We’re really pleased with where we are. The Northern Ireland market have always bought brilliantly into our Norwegian Epic programme out of Barcelona and that hasn’t changed. So, the last two years have been tough for everyone, suppliers and agents, but post-pandemic we are very optimistic about the future.”

How do you feel the travel industry has dealt with the difficult situation of the past two years?

“The travel industry, at the widest point, has done an amazing job. We are still experiencing a lot of the challenges of covid. Just in terms of people coming to this conference over the last couple of days has been really difficult. It has been really challenging from a flight point of view. The industry has done an outstanding job, we are by nature a very resilient industry. We bounce back, whether it was ash cloud in 2011, or Thomas Cook in 2019 through to Covid over the last couple of years, it is an amazing industry. It bounces back, but that’s because we sell outstanding product and we make people’s dreams come true. If you work in an industry like that, you are always going to do well.”

This is the first post-pandemic Big Travel Trade Event, what benefits do you gain from attending the travel trade event?

“For NCL, we see Northern Ireland as a real growth opportunity. We changed our structure six months ago and we had the opportunity to bring Aaron Fletcher into the business and this is a step change for NCL. Aaron is based in Ireland and is looking after Ireland, so bringing someone into the market and someone close to our key trade partners is really important. I see massive growth opportunity for NCL out of Northern Ireland, we are cruising’s best kept secret. Aaron is already doing an outstanding job of changing that view of NCL. For us, there is massive opportunity and we look forward to coming to the Awards in October, and meeting trade partners again and talking about how much we have developed over the last six months.”

What are you most excited about in NCL’s future?

“We’ve got a lot to be excited about, our new ship Norwegian Prima launches in August this year, then we have Norwegian Viva, the sister ship launching in July 2023. Then we have four further prima-class ships launching in the four years leading up to 2027. That will take our fleet up to to twenty-three but the prima-class ships are outstanding. Both Aaron and I have had the opportunity to visit the ship in it’s built stage. It’s going to be outstanding.  We are looking forward to our agents and guests getting to experience what we have to offer. The new ships are what we are really looking forward to here at NCL.”

Aaron Fletcher, Business Development Manager for Ireland at NCL added, “We are also looking forward to the addition of Norwegian Sun to the Canary Islands for the winter programme. There is a short lead in between now and November, when the first sailing goes. Going around some of the agents, they are excited about it. We are excited about it. It’s the first time we have visited that region in about five or six years, but of course the demand for it is high. The Canary Islands are popular with the whole island of Ireland, both north and south. So we are looking forward to seeing a big uptake on that addition in the coming months.”