Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings says AI has helped generate leads

Norwegian Cruise Line has reported a string of record-breaking booking months this year, thanks in part to using AI technology to generate leads, said Harry Sommer, CEO of parent company Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.

During NCLH’s Q2 earnings call Tuesday, Sommer said AI and machine learning are doubling leads for NCL but not increasing marketing expenses. Sommer said marketing spending is on par with 2019. 

He credited the AI leads for helping NCL set monthly booking records from January through July.

“When we look at bookings for this year, every month has been a record month in terms of new booking volume,” he said. July was the second-best booking month of the year despite July and August typically being a slower period, he said. 

Norwegian Cruise Line is developing a streamlined booking process to use generative AI technology to personalize guests’ experience and simplify the process to have more satisfied guests who spend more money on the ship and return to sail again, he said. 

NCLH said the company exceeded expectations for the quarter and projects better results for all of 2023.

CFO Mark Kempa said, “We’re more fully booked than we ever have been and there’s just not a lot left to sell, which is a good thing. That gives us more stability and predictability.” 

The company’s cumulative booked position for the rest of 2023 remains ahead of 2019’s then-record performance and at higher prices, Sommer said. The company’s booked position is between 60% and 65% booked on a 12-month forward basis, which Sommer referred to as the company’s “sweet spot.”

NCLH said the booking window has reached a record 255 days, which is 51 days longer than in 2019, said Sommer.  Most of the demand in Q2 was for 2024 sailings, Sommer said. 

In the past 90 days, more than 70% of the company’s ticket sales were for 2024 and 2025 sailings, which Sommer said was “considerably” higher than in 2019.

NCLH reported $2.2 billion in Q2 revenue, a record for the company and up 33% above the same period in 2019. The company also reported adjusted EBITDA of about $515 million, $35 million above expectations. 

Occupancy reached 105%, identical to Royal Caribbean Group’s Q2 occupancy and above Carnival Corp.’s 98% (Carnival’s fiscal Q2 was the three months ending March 31.)

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