For the first time, Norwegian Cruise Line will not only homeport in Amsterdam, the capital of the Netherlands, but will also have six ships in the European cruise market.
Norwegian Pearl has celebrated her European debut with a traditional plaque and key exchange ceremony.
Norwegian Pearl’s Captain, Paul von Knorring, and the ship’s officers took part with local officials from the Port of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Cruise Port and Passenger Terminal Amsterdam.
Norwegian Pearl departed for her first ever European cruise season out of Amsterdam on May 11th, when she became the largest cruise ship to sail on the Thames River at Tilbury in Essex, England.
“As the only North American cruise line to sail Europe year-round, we are very excited to offer guests new and interesting itineraries full of history, culture and diverse landscapes while they enjoy our various ships in the region,” said Andy Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line.
“We were very pleased to welcome Norwegian Pearl as her new homeport for the 2019 summer season,” said Alma Prins, Commercial Manager Cruise at Port of Amsterdam.
“Amsterdam is uniquely positioned in the heart of Western Europe, offering international guests the opportunity to combine a cruise with a land-based discovery of the Old Continent and its many treasures,” he added.
The deployment of the 2,400-passenger ship in Amsterdam comes as the city struggles to find a way to balance lucrative cruise tourism with the demands on the city’s already over-stretched tourist infrastructure.
At the end of last year, the city announced a new passenger tax for cruise ships visiting the city. The flat US $9 fee per passenger per day for sea and river cruise ships making port calls, is intended to offset tourism’s impact on city services, according to officials.
Cruise & Maritime Voyages and MSC Cruises both cancelled port calls in the city in response, but according to The Maritime Executive, the passenger tax does not apply to cruise ships homeporting in the city.
“Cruise passengers visiting Amsterdam, who already pay a significant amount in port fees and other tariffs, will have to pay [the tax] whilst other day tourists, who arrive in Amsterdam by train, bus or car, would not have to pay a day tourist tax and do not also pay port or other fees,” Cruise Lines International Association said in a statement.
The association predicted that some cruise lines might stop calling Amsterdam in response, costing the city existing revenue from cruise tourism, but local cruise officials seem to be banking on the incentive it gives cruise lines to homeport in the city instead, which provides greater revenue opportunities through bunkering and re-provisioning in addition to the port fees.