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His comments come as Norwegian Cruise Line’s $1.1 billion Encore gets ready to set sail from New York City. According to Del Rio, the company has 10 additional billion-dollar ships on order.
“The consumer is strong. I hear, you know, talk about recession in different pockets of the economy, and that may be true," he said, "but I’m here to tell you that we know empirically that the American consumer is alive and well because of the advanced booking window.”
Built in Germany, the 173,000-ton Encore is the biggest ship in Norwegian’s fleet, accommodating over 5,000 guests and weighing roughly 73,000 tons more than a Nimitz class aircraft carrier.
The behemoth vessel is equipped with 25 restaurants, 15 lounges, a Las Vagas-type casino, a spa, Broadway entertainment, virtual reality gaming and a dual-level race track — with turns cantilevered over the side of the ship — which can handle 10 cars racing at 40 miles per hour, Del Rio said.
People book their cruises up to 10 months in advance, Del Rio noted, and his company is ahead on 2020 bookings as compared to 2019.
“So I’m not guessing that the American consumer is strong. I’m telling you, with empirical evidence, it’s on the books, they’re strong and getting stronger,” Del Rio added.
According to Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) projection, 30 million passengers will have put to sea by the end of 2019. The industry also has 272 ships currently sailing with over 34 percent of those vessels operating in the Caribbean.