Archive for November, 2008

Top five new cruise ships for 2009

5 - Silversea Cruises - Silver Spirit

Number five on our list, Silver Spirit evokes the luxurious quality of the shimmering precious metal.  The styling will be a chic 1930's Art Deco; yet feature the latest modern innovations and maritime advancements.  As Siversea's new flagship, its interiors will focus on distinctive luxuries including an expanded spa and even larger suites - 95% featuring a private veranda. The Silver Spirit debuts in December 2009.

4 - Celebrity - Equinox

As sister to the Solstice, the Equinox deserves ranking on this list for genetic reasons alone.


3 - Carnival - Dream

This amazing Dream is likely to be an experience you wont want to awake from.  It will be a standout in the Carnival line, unlike any other Carnival ship in the fleet.  According to John Heald "it seems the stylists were allowed free rein -- and to hell with the cost."


2 -  Yachts of Seabourn - Odyssey

This comfortable 450-passenger yacht will be the first luxury cruise ship built in over six years.  Guests will feel special and cared for by everything from scented Pure Pampering baths drawn by the stewardess to an intimately shared Caviar on the Surf beach party.  The Odyssey will maintain Seabourn's famous industry highest crew to guest ratio.

Among the Odyssey's exotic sailings include Seabourn's first-ever World Cruise in January, 2010. The 108-day voyage travels from Bora Bora to Bali, Sydney to Saigon and Hong Kong to Istanbul, and touches five continents. The Odyssey will launch her inaugural year itinerary from Venice on June 24, 2009.


1 - Royal Caribbean - Oasis of the Seas

With a passenger capacity of 5,400 - need we say more?  The monstrous worlds largest-to-be cruise ship had to have ports of call retrofitted just so the mammoth ship can dock.  With 7 neighborhoods, it has been referred to as a floating suburb.  The ship, in fact, is becoming a destination in and of itself.



Cruise Market Watch Announces 2009 Cruise Line Market Share and Revenue Projections

Norwegian Cruise Lines Pearl and Star in Skagway

Norwegian Cruise Lines Pearl and Star in Skagway (Photo credit: Jill Clardy)

Miami, FL (PRWEB) November 28, 2008 -- Cruise Market Watch updates 2009 cruise industry market statistics based on current economic conditions and anticipated new ship builds.

Among the 2009 highlights:

  • Total worldwide cruise passenger capacity will increase 7.0% over 2008
  • Annualized total passengers carried worldwide in 2009 is estimated at 16.5 million
  • The total worldwide cruise market is estimated at $26.9 billion, a 1.4% decline from 2008

While cruise lines will significantly increase passenger capacity with the addition of new ships, pricing pressures to fill them in 2009 should negatively impact per passenger revenues. However, the combination of attractive pricing, innovative ships designs for select traveler markets and significant marketing efforts around the astounding new ships will provide opportunity to introduce new cruisers to the cruising experience. This will stimulate market growth for the industry through 2011. By the end of 2011, revenues are projected to increase 13.5% and passengers carried 13.8% from 2009.

With cruise line stocks Carnival Corp (NYSE: CCL) and Royal Caribbean (NYSE: RCL) trading around 70% off 52-week highs shares appear oversold, according Cruise Market Watch. The cruise industry has seen fears of overcapacity before. In 1990 new ship construction by cruise lines resulted in the addition of 15,000 berths - a 26% increase from 1987. Cruise lines proceeded to perform exceptionally well over the subsequent two decades. With cruise currently accounting for just 2% to 4% of market share for the total vacation industry, there remains plenty of room for growth.

"It's all about creative ways to get the cruise line's brand in front of non-cruisers." By partnering with non-travel brands that resonate with a given line's target market and by communicating the experiences of the ships, such as spas or exotic destinations, prospects that are already vacationing in other ways will try a cruise.

ABOUT CRUISE MARKET WATCH - The cruise industry's best destination for market size, advertising and marketing. Users reference:

Cruise Market Watch is referred to by industry professionals from cruise lines, advertising and travel agencies, shareholders, industry analysts, hospitality schools, ship builders and ancillary industries.




Increase cruise revenue in 2009

Lets face it; there are just three ways to grow revenue:

1. Increase spending and/or frequency among current customers

With a combination of increased passenger capacity, pressure on pricing and the general economic malaise, number one will be difficult in 2009.

2. Acquire customers from your competition

Number two may be easier, given uncertain levels of brand loyalty among contemporary lines in particular (a subject for a future post).  But the result may be lower prices and squeezed margins.

3. Expand the cruise market and acquire new customers

The time is ripe for number three.

A) The market potential is certainly bigger. According to the Allied Academics International Conference the cruise industry holds only two percent of the market share in the total vacation industry. Only 45% of the target North American market has EVER cruised – and there is no reason over time this can’t rise to 70%-80%.

B) The economy may prompt non-cruisers to try something different, of a greater perceived value.

How do we win them? By utilizing a “Link Together and Take Away” strategy.

Link Together

Why didn’t we see Bond in Quantum of Solace ordering his shaken not stirred martinis in the casino of the Celebrity Solstice?

“Link together” means partnering the cruise line's brand into the extended, non-vacationing lives of consumers. This shouldn’t be done haphazardly. Research on each lines core customers should be conducted to see what other brands and products it's best customers tend to gather around, use most and associate with. Then, reach out to create logical branding partnerships to “link together” – drawing in new cruisers via the associations.

  • Fashion retailers: runway and fashion show on board
  • Auto makers: place an automobile on deck for one of 3,000 passengers to win. In return, auto manufactures run a sales contest giving away cruises to top performers
  • Real Estate: buy a new home from a builder and get a free cruise
  • Refrigerator: A Northland stainless mini-fridge in each stateroom. In return, each sold in stores has a sicker inside (take a cruise and for seven days you won’t have to use this)

These are just examples. It’s all about creative ways to get the cruise line’s brand in front of non-cruisers who, in their purchasing behavior, mirror the line’s current best customers.

Take Away

Obviously the best cruise prospects are those who are already vacationing to locations such as the Grand Canyon or Europe, planning a spa getaway to Sedona Arizona, a family reunion in a Vermont private rental home or a wedding in Napa Valley.

Fortunately consumers surf different web sites and make use of significant research months before they make their vacation choice. In addition to buying Google keywords “cruise,” our ads should also be appearing when they search “getaway spa.” In addition to posting display advertising where current cruisers hang out (travel sites and cruise boards) place them in spa message boards, spa blogs, spa websites and spa niche publications. Invite influential spa experts to sail and lecture.  Importantly, the messaging should be specifically tailored to address each particular niche (spas, exotic destinations etc.,).

In sum, 2009 will be an exciting and challenging year. There is an opportunity to go after first time cruisers. By linking together with the non-travel brands that resonate with a given line’s target prospects and by bringing in new travelers to experience the spa or destinations we can all make out like Bond... James Bond.


Historical perspective on cruise overcapacity

I ran across this article published July 25, 1987 in the New York Times.

"Overcapacity Also Feared. Of more concern to many analysts is that the optimism expressed by Mr. Arison and some competitors may open the industry to overcapacity. According to the Cruise Line Industry Association, new ship construction by its members will result in the addition of an estimated 15,000 berths - a 26 percent increase - by 1990.

That fear may already be represented in the market performance of the other publicly traded cruise lines. Regency was offered at $1.50 a share... American Cruise Lines has fallen from $3.125 at the end of 1986, to $2.25 in O-T-C trading yesterday, and Bermuda Star Line, offered at $6 a share, closed yesterday at $4.875 on the American Stock Exchange."

Fast forward 20 years later to November 13, 2008 in Business Week.

"With customers galore a few years ago, the industry ordered an armada of bigger, fancier vessels. Because they take so long to construct, the new ships are now just hitting the water. Royal Caribbean will add six ships by 2012 at a cost of $6 billion. Rival Carnival Cruise Lines (CUK) estimates the industry will launch 38 ships in North America and Europe over the next three years, adding 28% to capacity."

To quote Yogi Bera "It's deja vu all over again."

While Regency, American and Bermuda Star are gone, the point is history and human behavior teaches us lessons.  For one, we typically overreact, particularly if it is the tone of a media headline looking to drive readership.  The second is, despite perceived overcapacity in 1987, the industry performed amazingly well over the subsequent two decades.

I anticipate the next two decades will be equally as fruitful.  According to the Allied Academics International Conference the cruise industry holds only two percent of the market share in the total vacation industry. Only 45% of the target North American market has EVER cruised – and there is no reason over time this can’t rise to 70%-80%.  A tailwind to this growth will be a better educated, higher income population "on the threshold of a boom" as a 2005 report by the U.S. Census Bureau described the aging population.  The first baby boomers turn 65 in 2011.


Premium Cruise Line Celebrity Generating Buzz with Solstice

Solstices occur twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth’s axis is oriented directly towards or away from the Sun.

An inaugural launch like Celebrity’s Solstice, however, occurs just once. Celebrity is reaching new cruise line marketing heights in getting its pod chirping.

The blogosphere abounds with buzz.

That fits in with green strategy.  So does naming Professor Sharon L. Smith, an ocean scientist, as the ship Godmother.

It all adds up to good marketing by Celebrity - it’s one Solstice I wont soon forget.


Quick Fix for that Cruise Itch

According to Wikipedia, a cruise ship is “a passenger ship used for pleasure voyages, where the voyage itself and the ship's amenities are part of the experience.”  No mention of passenger capacity.

For those of us who love to get out on the ocean, why not slip in a small ship charter cruise between our extended duration vacations?

Miami's K&A Charters, for example, offers excursions from 6 to 500 guests aboard ships up to 500 foot in length.

Cruising on a beautiful yacht and enjoying the spectacular views of South Florida is a great way to:

  • spend a day,
  • get a truly unique perspective of the city,
  • slip in a proposal to your future spouse,
  • celebrate an anniversary etc.,

One can choose from a variety of boat types to fit their needs.

A magnificent motor yacht offers the ultimate in cruising luxury. Anything and everything is available to you and your guests. An on board chief may be requested, offering you the finest in private dinning. On the upper deck you may enjoy a more casual lifestyle, enjoying the beautiful sites.

If water sports are your thing, you can arrange anything from dinghy’s, to wave runners or even par-a-sailing! These beautiful yachts are offered in three styles. The "Sea Ray" and "Cruisers" or the larger European styled "Sunseeker." All offer large open air lounge areas prefect for entertaining guests. Below decks you will find beautifully appointed fully air-conditioned salons with all the comforts of home.

For the more adventurous, cruise on a Go Fast or "Cigarette."  They are designed for a single purpose and that is to "go fast." They are equipped with high horsepower engines that are able to push them at incredible speeds, some over 100 miles per hour.


October 2008 Cruise Search

Our monthly Cruise Search reflects change in demand and online market share. U.S. online cruise search is estimated at 7.0 million monthly unique individuals for the month of October. CruiseSearch shrank for the third consecutive month, both versus the prior month and October of last year. All this points to a continued weakening in online cruise search activity as the economic conditions faced by travelers have worsened.

% Change for October '08
vs Last Year vs. Last Month
Total Internet Traffic 4.4% 0.6%
Total Cruise Search -7.5% -6.0%

Percentages in the charts below represent the approximate share of all online cruise traffic.

Chart 1 - % of traffic for top Cruise Lines from all cruise related traffic (click to enlarge)




Chart 2 - % of traffic for top booking sites from all cruise related traffic (click to enlarge)



On the Royal Caribbean earnings call October 28th some additional insights were revealed on booking conditions.

Richard D. Fain: "A little over a month ago we witnessed a historic change in the financial markets and in many of the key drivers of our business. The resulting deterioration in consumer confidence and spending now requires us to confront new realities...

One interesting aspect for us is the need to recalibrate our forecast for a different pattern of consumer behavior. Historically we’ve been very successful in using the pace and type of current bookings to predict future demand. We have enormous volumes of data that allow us to extrapolate future bookings based on how people are buying cruises today and what their price elasticity is. Unfortunately, the current turmoil came suddenly and disrupted our normal patterns.

In addition, the feedback we get from our guests and from our travel agent partners clearly demonstrates that the consumer is as confused about the economic situation."

Brian J. Rice: "As we’ve seen in other analogous situations, during times of sudden change and high uncertainty, our customers hold off making any decisions they can. At the beginning of the month we saw modestly lower booking volumes compared to a year ago but nothing unusual given our strong order book at the time. Bookings began to show additional weakness in mid-September, about the time of the Lehman bankruptcy. Towards the end of the month when Congress was dealing with the bailout package, we began to see a more rapid decline in new demand.

For the last two weeks despite the dramatic volatility in the market, bookings appear to have leveled off and we have actually seen a more consistent pattern."


Royal Caribbean’s ad campaign “Get Out There” is going, going, gone…

The Wall Street Journal is reporting Royal Caribbean and new agency partner JWT are launching a new ad campaign Monday, November 10.

The launch follows by only a few days Carnival’s new campaign – interestingly with former Royal Caribbean agency Arnold.

Royal Caribbean is sailing away from the successful 9-year-old "Get Out There."  The new campaign is dubbed "The Nation of Why Not."  The Nation of Why Not kicks off with two television commercials (30-second and 60- second versions) inviting vacationers to secede from land and become citizens of “the nation.” The tongue-in-cheek spots - a combination of live action and animation - begin November 10, during morning show programming on ABC and NBC television networks, and during primetime programming on ABC and CBS. The commercials highlight Royal Caribbean’s global destinations.


The reason given by the Wall Street Journal is RCL is going after more revenues from European and Asian consumers. WSJ cites Royal Caribbean’s third-quarter earnings call last week when it was stated that more than 40% of revenues will come from outside of North America in 2009 , up from 30% last year.

While that may be true, I think the strategy is larger than that.  After all, 60% of revenues will still be from North America.  “The Nation of Why Not” may also be a smart, timely play off the recent historic election and current forward-looking mentality towards economic recovery.  In addition, research shows destinations play an important role in consumer cruise choices, so RCL may be promoting its depth of destination alternatives to U.S. consumers.

The ads creatively challenge viewers to do things at sea that they could not do on land, such as “Why not ice skate on the equator and climb mountains at sea?” Additionally, print ads will launch in forty newspapers nationwide on Sunday, November 16, 2008.

Travel and cruise industry professionals will be introduced to The Nation of Why Not on Monday, November 17, with the first edition of “The Why Not Herald,” an insert in key travel trade publications across the United States and Canada. Subsequent editions will feature the new brand campaign’s print advertisements.

See the Nation of Why Not 

Updated 10/10/08


Defeated candidate to “go on a cruise.”

Perhaps the “mortgage meltdownbooking trends can be defeated post election.  That is, if all candidates follow Democrat Ian McGaughey’s lead.

After losing the 112th Assembly District election in upstate New York to Republican Anthony Jordan, McGaughey “plans to get married Nov. 12 and go on a cruise.”






McGaughey, a businessman from Wilton told supporters he knew he had to run an uphill campaign in the predominantly Republican Assembly district and was proud of his effort in the race. The job came with a two-year term and a $79,500 salary.

The 112th Assembly District includes all of Washington County New York, five Saratoga County towns (Wilton, Malta, Saratoga, Northumberland and Stillwater) and the city of Mechanicville.

No word yet on which cruise line was chosen.

Reminds me of the genius and long running "I'm going to Disney World" spots that have been shown after each Superbowl since 1987 and now include American Idol winners.


Source: Schenectady Gazette


Luxurious growth in the cruise segment

The Seabourn Spirit, Sydney Cove, Sydney, Aust...

The Seabourn Spirit, Sydney Cove, Sydney, Australia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2008, there were about 10 million U.S. households with a net worth above $1 million (excluding home equity).  This is almost double the number from 2002, just six years earlier.  This growth has led to a boon for retailers who can appeal to the luxury market.

In fact, over the past ten years luxury has seen the most growth of perhaps any market sector. During this time, revenue growth in the regular retail mass-market has been in around 4%-6% annually.  Comparatively, growth in the luxury category has been from 20% - 32% annually.   Estimates are the luxury segment will continue to grow at a rate of 15% a year to 2010.

It is no wonder cruise lines have been scrambling to fill the increased demand for luxury.  From now until 2011 luxury cruise line capacity will increase 30%.  The rest of the cruise industry’s capacity will increase 17% over the same time period.

The bulk of this increased luxury capacity is with Carnival’s Yachts of Seabourn.  It alone is growing passenger capacity 216% over the next 3 years - from a current three-ship total of 624 passengers to a six-ship total of 1,974 passengers.

Over an entire year this amounts to a considerable amount of new customers to win.  Approximately 50% of Yachts of Seabourn’s current consumer base is a repeat customer.  Therefore, Seabourn will need to generate significant interest within the luxury niche to find and expand its customer base.

It is interesting to play with the numbers.  Assume each of three new ships (the first named Odyssey, with its maiden voyage scheduled to depart Venice, Italy, on June 24, 2009) are at sea for a total of 48 weeks per year with a trip duration average of 17 days.  That’s roughly 20 trips per year per ship, or 60 total sailings per year.  With 450 passengers per ship, that equates to 27,000 new passengers annually.

How to win them

To win them, Seabourn will communicate its unique experience: industry’s best crew-to-guest ratio, “of coarse” attitude, engaging social environment, well-appointed suites and privileged access to the world’s most desirable ports of call.

According to Greg Furman, Founder and Chairman of the Luxury Marketing Council “In addition to the search for the memorable, the unique and services that have high value, is what I call the rise of connoisseurship and the hunger to know. Never before has the luxury market seen buyers as interested in learning what constitutes the best of the best.”   In addition, the luxury consumer has become “more and more demanding of superior service, intelligent communication and a personalized understanding of their wants, likes and desires.”

Seabourn will use marketing to generate positive social conversations about Seabourn within the most discerning ultra luxury travel segment in the world. Conversations that will lead to increased agent, friend and family referrals.  Again, Furman: “They want sophisticated marketing, marketing intimacy, one-to-one marketing, what I call intelligent coddling by brands.”

Not to be left out, Regent Seven Seas Cruises recently announced that it will invest approximately $40 million dollars to implement an extensive refurbishment and enhancement of the line’s all-suite vessels.  "We are not only refurbishing the ships, we are adding many new luxury features that will enhance the guest experience,” said Mark Conroy, President of Regent Seven Seas Cruises. “This comprehensive enhancement program will see each of the ships emerge essentially brand new and positions our fleet as the standard-bearer in the luxury cruise category.”