Norwegian Extends NCF Commissions Through March 2024

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), which began paying travel advisor commission on NCFs (non-commissionable fares) in January 2023, has extended those through March 31, 2024, for advisors currently registered. That said, the line will discontinue future NCF commission payments, effective April 1, 2024. NCFs include such elements as crew gratuities and port fees.

Many travel advisors were still struggling with business recovery in late 2022 when NCL announced it would pay commission on NCFs if advisors signed up and submitted a marketing plan. The move was highly praised and some 2,500 agencies took advantage of the offer, which NCL believed would increase its business. 

A Changing Era, Different Approach

So, what's changed? Most notably, the cruise industry recovery has been strong in 2023. In the last few weeks, cruise-selling agency groups are reporting soaring sales and a strong consumer propensity to cruise. Cruise Planners for the first time in any given year has surpassed $1 billion in sales for 2023. At the annual Dream Vacations and CruiseOne conference a few weeks ago, Brad Tolkin, co-chairman/co-CEO, told advisors that sales are booming, bookings look very positive for 2024 and consumers have a strong desire for cruise vacations. And other agency groups report the same. 

Thus, NCL has opted to go in a different direction in supporting travel advisors. Here's NCL's public statement about the commission situation: “We are committed to supporting the travel partner community, and our legacy 'Partners First' philosophy, which is rooted in empowering travel advisors to grow their business along with ours, together, by providing easy access to an extensive resource library, fostering strong relationships with the NCL Sales team and offering opportunities to experience the product through multiple avenues.

“As the cruise industry is once again on an upward trajectory, we are proud to have supported our partners by paying commission on NCFs. To continue to help our travel partners fully recover and grow, we have decided to extend our 'NCF Commission Program' through the end of Q1 2024 for partners currently enrolled.

“The program, which was the first of its kind and supported travel partners during one of the most challenging times in the cruise industry by paying commissions on non-commissioned fares and boosting advisor earnings, will discontinue on April 1, 2024. However, with the program extending through the first quarter, the vast majority of bookings that sail in 2024 will provide a higher level of commission.

“As always, we look forward to continuing to support the travel partner community by investing heavily in marketing efforts with an enhanced Marketing Headquarters, a Travel Partner Resource Guide and NCLU’s Learning Lab, and ultimately, we are focused on being the easiest cruise line to do business with.”

Elsewhere in the industry, sister brand Oceania Cruises has been testing a no-NCFs policy with its top 50 travel agencies, and that is continuing.  

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