January 29, 2003
After what can only be labeled as a big tease, Norwegian Cruise Line’s much-hyped “big announcement”, occurring yesterday by “webcast,” was, to quote Cruise Critic readers, something of a disappointment. In other words, ”so much fluff, so little stuff.” NCL started creating a groundswell of hype, rumor and innuendo late last week, when it sent a “save-the-date” email alert to media and travel agents and promised, via the live webcast hosted by its company president, a momentous announcement. Further curiosity was aroused when some cruise media received, by mail, a bottle of sparkling cider (intended, we can only believe, to serve as a symbol of champagne and to suggest a “new ship” announcement would be imminent). Speculation, particularly on Cruise Critic’s Norwegian Cruise Line board, was also feverish. On one message string, nearly 4,000 hits (and ultimately over 100 posted messages), travelers weighed the possibilities, all potentially exciting. Could it be that the venerable Norway would be dispatched to Hawaii? That the recent political maneuverings involving exemptions to the Jones Act for NCL’s Hawaii-based ships would be approved? Would NCL be announcing a merger with another cruise line? And on and on. Alas, none of the above applied. In fact, the “big announcement” actually concerned a travel agency plan to offer new incentives to agents who book their customers on NCL’s ships. The only way travelers will feel any impact at all, it seems, is if newly loyal travel agents try the hard-sell on Norwegian cruises. More interesting, eventually, than the so-called “big announcement” turned out to be NCL president Colin Veitch’s confession that he does monitor online message boards.