The fight in the cruise world for repeat guests gets more intense each year, and one of the ways lines enhance their attraction lately has been through their wine programs. Norwegian Cruise Lines, the winner of this year’s VIBE Vista Award for best wine program among Hotels, Cruise Lines and Casinos, wanted to upgrade by developing a wine list that could complement all food offerings at various price points.
Completely revamping the onboard wine selection is no small feat. To do so, NCL engaged master sommelier Andrea Robinson (one of only 17 women in the world to have the title), a well-known James Beard award winner, television wine and food host and author of five books. Robinson crafted the new wine list from scratch from more than 50 highly-acclaimed international and domestic wine producers.
In order to simplify and enhance the wine selection process for guests, Robinson worked with NCL to redesign the menu and arrange wines by taste, from lightest to fullest body, making it easy for guests to match their personal taste to their meal. She also developed a series of short wine tasting videos shown in guest staterooms on board that are meant to educate and inform. In addition, Robinson conducted intensive training sessions with NCL’s food and beverage staff to increase the value of their wine recommendations.
Norwegian also launched a new wine package, Viva Vino, offering guests up to 25 percent off a variety of high-quality wines chosen from the new list in one of three available packages (Each package gives guests the option of choosing four, six or eight bottles at discounted pricing to enjoy throughout their cruise – in the bar, lounge or restaurant of their choice, or their stateroom.)
- “The Enthusiast,” featuring a selection of wines to compliment any meal or serve as the perfect nightcap including four bottles for $88, six bottles for $132 or eight bottles for $176.
- “The Aficionado,” packaged for avid wine lovers, adding to the “Enthusiast” options plus a few more favorites. It includes four bottles for $98, six bottles for $146 or eight bottles for $196.
- “The Connoisseur” was created for the ultimate wine lover, offering the largest available selection, priced at four bottles for $110, six bottles for $162 or eight bottles for $216.
Robinson’s expert wine selections are also featured in Norwegian’s Chef’s Table gourmet dining experience. Available fleet wide, Norwegian’s Chef’s Table is a nine-course culinary adventure and each course is accompanied by wines that have been specially paired by Robinson.
To celebrate their new partnership, NCL offered special promotions as well, including one that discounted a high scoring wine and included two of Robinson’s signature wine glasses from her collection, “The One,” to take home as a memento of their cruise experience.
The results: as of July 2012, the wine program net revenues have increased 8 percent over 2011, translating into roughly 1 million dollars for the first six months, more than additional 250,000 glasses of wine. Pretty good response and a sign that change is good.