Archive for March, 2009

Spa trends for the cruise market

In 2009 we launched our series of discussions about niche market opportunities - markets where cruise lines can grow market share and revenue.  The first niche in the series was the spa market.  We sized the spa market for revenue potential and subsequently blogged a marketing strategy for how to successfully acquire share.  This is the final post in the spa series, covering current cruise industry trends in the spa market. 

Undoubtedly the oncoming demographic waves of boomers have an appetite for new senior lifestyles that emphasize active travel experiences and spending on rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit.  Cruise lines are quickly positioning to take advantage, with the primary spa trend being the development of special spa cabins.

eurodam-spaFor example, the newly launched Holland America's Eurodam has 56 spa cabins, staterooms located close to the Greenhouse Spa that offer special in-room amenities. They include a designated spa concierge to book treatments and four exclusive spa packages. Passengers can choose from Spa Staterooms on the Observation (floor-to-ceiling windows and scalloped verandas) and Panorama Decks.

celebrity-aqua-classCelebrity established an "Aqua-Class" for its new ships (Solstice, Equinox and Eclipse).  Guests have unlimited access to the spa's relaxation and thermal rooms, plus services of a spa concierge and free dinner in Blu. Other perks include upgraded robes and slippers along with in-room aromatherapy.

carnival_dreams_verandahThe Carnival Splendor offers 68 spa cabins connected to the ship's 21,000-square-foot spa, and include free access to the spa's relaxation suite. The new 3,646-passenger Carnival Dream will include spa staterooms with priority reservations, free access to fitness classes as well as the steam and sauna in the thermal suite.

costa-spaTwo new ships from Costa, the Luminosa and the Pacifica, will have special staterooms that allow guests to access a spa via a private stairway or elevator. Two spa treatments are built into the cost of these rooms along with meals at a restaurant serving healthy cuisine.

ncl-epicOn NCL's upcoming Epic a new category of spa staterooms will also be introduced.   With cabins located near the spa, guests will have access via an exclusive key card.  The 39 staterooms will also have 24-access to the thermal suite and each spa suite has its own whirlpool.

seabourn-odessey-spaAnother new ship, the Seabourn Odyssey, will introduce the largest spa facility ever on a luxury cruise vessel, at 11,400 square feet (spanning two decks).  There will be seven private treatment rooms that (along with ocean views) have a dry float bed to envelops the user in a warm cocoon of relaxation once the body wrap ingredients are applied. Seabourn ships have always offered the "Firmatone Aroma Spa Ocean-Wrap" that smartly ties in the ocean/water healing experience by combining the richness of sea plants and marine algae with aromatherapy.

The Odyssey will also feature a separate spa deck above the main spa housing two private spa villas available for half-day rentals complete with dining areas, bathing areas and wraparound terraces.

Cruise Days

These days are, to borrow from a cruise marketing program in Hamburg, Germany "Cruise Days."

hamburgcruisedays2008_logoGerd Drossel, Managing Director of the Hamburg Cruise Center (a port that has increased its cruise passenger traffic nearly 700% in just nine years) told me about their terrific marketing program.  Complete with fireworks and harbor tours the event alone attracts 1 million people. What a way to get the word out about the cruise product! According to Mr. Drossel "the whole thing was also televised and viewed as far away as China."  The event was highlighted by a parade of ships that included Cunard's Queen Mary 2 and AIDA's Aura which, according to Drossel, will join Hapag-Lloyd's Columbus and QM2's sister ship Queen Victoria during Cruise Days 2010 (July 29-31).

Here in the U.S. we have been participating in something of a Cruise Days of our own. With the cnbcCruise Shipping Miami Conference having been completed March 16-19 it is being followed by a television special, Cruise, Inc. airing on CNBC and hosted by Peter Greenberg.  Greenberg's seven day cruise includes "all-access coverage" and examines the impact of the economy on the industry.  The program premieres Tuesday, March 24 at 9p ET.  View the  sneak preview here.

Cruiseology 101

The Cruise Ship In Miami

The Cruise Ship In Miami (Photo credit: Stuart Herbert)

Seatrade's Cruise Shipping Miami conference is awesome!  Got some great feedback from the State of the Industry and Luxury Cruise conferences which certainly will find its way (cruise value) into this blog (cruise value).

I was introducing myself today as a "cruiseologist."  Why?  What is more memorable, "Hi I'm Dave" or "Hi, I'm Dave, Cruiseologist"?  Silly? Not really.  The marketing point is, when you have less than 1 minute to meet someone and make an impression, make it memorable.

World’s first iPhone application for cruisers

Wanted - 288,000 cruisers with an iPhone. That is the estimated number of annual cruise passengers who currently own an iPhone. How do we get there? First, let me state 100% market share is unreasonable - even being the first in a niche and having a really cool product.

iphone3gjpg1There will be 16 million cruisers in 2009, so lets assume 90% own cell phone and 2% have an iPhone or iTouch1. The maximum total market potential in 2009 is 288,000 or about 24,000 per month. Assuming 10% success that is 28,800 user sign-ups per year.  FYI smartphones are growing at an annual rate of 21%.

What is the marketing plan?

a) Talk about the app to everyone I can at Seatrade (Cruise Shipping Miami) conference
b) Develop social media relationships using Twitter, Facebook etc,
c) Drop the low $1.99 cent price point for version 1.0 for travel agents who are participating in the Cruise Pulse Survey Panel and bloggers interested in reviewing the iPhone application.2   All version 1.0 users will receive free upgrade to version 2.0 which will have more sophisticated "who's cruising" features and launch about two weeks later.

What exactly does this thing do? Not ready to reveal, but I welcome your guesses in the comments field below. The app will be submitted to Apple store soon. You can pre-register now to be notified when we make the app live. We will also provide a flash demo at when launched.

Stay tuned; I’ll be posting progress reports and user numbers here.

1Estimated number of iPhones and iTouches at end of 2009, 60 million, about 2% of cell phone market. (1)

2Hello bloggers! Are you interested in reviewing the Always Be Cruising iPhone application?, teamed up with to develop the world's first iPhone application for cruisers. We're looking for a few good bloggers who would like to receive it free (only an iPhone required). All we ask is that you use it and review it.

What does it do? You will have to try it to see. If this sounds like fun, go to and enter your name and email address. (We'll never use your information in any way other than to get the iPhone application to you). One confession, these pennies come out of our pockets and we just can't afford to give the app away to everyone. But if you are a blogger with an iPhone and the cruise bug, expect your notice to download the app in you email first part of June.

Cruise retains strong year over year online search growth

Our monthly Cruise Search Index reflects change in cruise demand and online search market share. For the month of February 2009, U.S. online cruise search is estimated at 11.9 million monthly unique individuals. This represents a 17% decrease off the January 2009 high.  Versus last year, online search for cruise is still up a solid 8.8% versus February last year.

% Change for February '09
vs Last Year vs. Last Month
Total Internet Traffic 3.7% 0.2%
Total Cruise Search 8.8% -17.6%


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)








Sources: Google Analytics




Cruise Pulse Travel Agent Survey Panel Results

The recently completed February edition of the Cruise Pulse travel agent survey panel analyzed responses from 254 travel agents gathered from February 22 to March 3, 2009.  Findings provide further insights into wave season cruise booking trends. Highlights include:

  • Cruise bookings have picked up significantly from January 2009
  • On average, the price per booking per passenger has declined 16% to $1,580
  • Travel agents are remaining optimistic


Download the entire study to see the details,  plus:

  • Which line was ranked the “the hottest cruise line?”
  • Which line did agents choose as “most agent friendly?”
  • Which the line would agents most likely recommend to clients?

Cruise Pulse is sponsored by Latin Capital Market, The Online Center for Latin American Stock Investing and Trading.



Cruising past recession island

cva0081aThis recession is proving the cruise industry incredibly agile and able to successfully cruise past recession island.  With an average annual growth rate for nearly two decades of 7.4%, the industry has a history of phenomenal success. Today cruising reaches a much broader market than the retirees of old. While diversification greatly expanded the market, it also exposes the industry to impacts in the mainstream economy.

For those who can take advantage of the tremendous deals being offered, Norwegian Cruise Line has introduced a job loss protection program in its insurance policy. For the one-week period ended March 1, 2009, Carnival recorded the highest number of net weekly bookings in its history. estimates passengers carried will still increase by 2.6% in 2009.

Navigating four oceans

The industry will continue to chart the navigation of four oceans to cruise up the revenue growth curve.

1. Get consumers to start spending again (Pacific Ocean)
2. Absorb the new build passenger capacity (Atlantic Ocean)
3. Find new cruisers (Arctic Ocean)
4. Get prices moving up (Indian Ocean)

1. Get consumers to start spending again

Tighter consumer budgets mean shorter holidays (cruising to closer destinations), departing from closer homeports, booking closer to departure dates, and less onboard spending at the bar, casino and spa. When these trends reverse, we will have traversed the first ocean. Economists recently surveyed by Reuters forecast a 0.8 percent gain in U.S. gross domestic product during third-quarter of 2009 and 2.0 percent in the fourth-quarter.

2. Absorb the new build passenger capacity

One can’t help but be excited by the development of new and exhilarating ships. Oasis of the Seas, Odyssey, Dream, Equinox, Luminosa, Splendida, Luna, and others have jaw dropping wow factor. Most likely you already know that by the end of 2011 a total of 29 ships with passenger capacity of 70,390 will be added to worldwide fleets. This new capacity is projected to help add 2.4 million cruisers to the annual passengers roles.

3. Find new cruisers

Hotels, resorts and casinos are slashing prices to lure guests and be competitive. Cruise's continued growth requires reaching out in new and creative ways to acquire market share from the likes of destination spas (such as Celebrity’s spa concierge and spa cabins on Eurodam and Spendor), weddings, family reunions, casinos, and singles.

Ships are sailing full due to the cruise value proposition relative to other vacation options. But we are seeing a higher percentage of former cruisers onboard because they are the ones who understand best the value, and are taking advantage of the aggressive pricing. In the long term, the goal is to find new passengers by maximizing trends in consumer behavior.

4. Get prices moving up

While oil prices remain low, cruise lines can offer striking cost savings for the consumer over comparable land-based alternatives. This is a great strategy for acquisition of market share and the cruise industry is undoubtedly growing its piece of the travel pie in 2009. As more people cruise, more will tell others and they will want to cruise too. The cruise industry is in an enviable position for the imminent economic recovery. This leaves the final stage of re-establishing the upward revenue growth trend - the ability to raise prices in the face of increasing demand and limited supply with positive impact on profit margins.

Long-term prospects are bright; it is an exciting and challenging time to be in the cruise industry. I love a good cliché. So grab the rails, we are riding this storm out. Industry leaders are charting the navigation of the four oceans for future prosperity and the vacation enjoyment of millions.