Archive for July, 2009

Cruise Market Watch turns 1

I launched last August as a way to highlight my research and marketing skills in a practical and demonstrable way. Since then, the site has had 54,000 page views from 14,500 unique visitors and ranks first for the search term "Cruise Market."  I have been published in the Travel Trade Gazette and Cruise Shipping Miami Today, attended the Cruise Shipping Miami convention, surveyed over 600 travel agents and created an iPhone app for cruisers.  Not bad for a part-time pleasure. But perhaps most importantly, it has helped me stay emotionally connected to the love of my life, to whom the site is dedicated, as she travels the world.

I started out knowing I wouldn't out scoop the cruise sites that post news releases onto the web.  If it already exists, it's not unique - so why should you visit?  I try to find cruise trends that have an impact from a marketing perspective and actually write something insightful.  Moreover, I provide market data for free that simply can't be found anywhere else.

Since my passion is applying analytical and strategic thinking to the development of remarkable products and promotions, I'd like to share five Google Analytics site statistics from the past year.

Top 5 most read blog posts

  1. Top 5 new cruise ships for 2009
  2. Cruise marketing top 10 greatest moments
  3. Premium Cruise Line Celebrity Generating Buzz with Solstice
  4. Royal Caribbean's campaign "Get Out There" is going, going, gone...
  5. View from under a cruise ship

Top 5 blog posts that haven't been discovered yet (personal opinion)

  1. Get your pod chirping, the video
  2. Why choose to cruise
  3. Cruising past recession island
  4. Relax - cruise lines can go after the spa business
  5. Top 10 cruise port pubs

Top visiting countries of origin

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Germany
  5. Netherlands

Top 5 referring sites


Top 5 keywords searched

  1. cruise market
  2. cruise market watch
  3. cruise industry market share
  4. cruise market share
  5. top 5 cruise lines

I hope each visitor has been rewarded for their time and taken away something of value.  I have made a lot of new friends this past year.  I would love to hear your feedback.

Cruise iPhone app now available to cruisers

The countdown, converse and cruise app is now available for download in iTunes.

Named "Always Be Cruising" it is part fun, part function for fans of cruising.

Adam M. Goldstein, President & CEO Royal Caribbean International calls the app "the marriage of the cruise countdown clocks."

The app includes not just a countdown to cruise timer with over 200 ship images, but also a "who is cruising" social feature.  You can make friends before you even start the cruise by creating your "cruiser" profile and exchanging messages and helpful tips for the best cruise experience.  The countdown clock also makes a ship horn sound when launched, followed by the soothing sound of seagulls and ocean waves.

Powered by

Thomas Troward (1847-1916) said "The law of flotation was not discovered by the contemplation of the sinking of things."

And likewise idea of creating the first app for cruisers was contemplated in an early Cruise Market Watch post.  It grew into a full-blown goal after talking over the concept with Yachts of Seabourn Vice President of Marketing, Adam Snitzer.  Thanks to a lot of help and partnership with mPlugged, cruisers around the world can now enjoy its functionality.

MSC Racing to Grow Market Share

f1_simulatorMSC Cruises has been a regular trackside advertiser at Formula 1TM races around the world for the past several years.  They even have a Formula 1 Simulator aboard the MSC Fantasia.

But they aren't just settling for sponsorships at the racetrack. They are aggressively getting into the race to acquire market share in the growing cruise industry.

MSC Cruises just launched its tenth ship - the MSC Splendida in Barcelona. The Splendida is the sister ship of the MSC Fantasia, launched last December 2008. She was the largest ship ever build by a European owner, carrying 3,959 guests.  The MSC Poesia was introduced the March prior and the MSC Magnifica comes into service March 2010.  Moreover, MSC unveils two more new ships MSC Meraviglia and MSC Favolosa in 2011 and 2012.

Head swirling?  Here is a chart to help you get you oriented.

Date Passengers
MSC Poesia Mar ‘08 3,013
MSC Fantasia Dec ’08 3,959
MSC Splendida July ’09 3,959
MSC Magnifica Mar ’10 3,013
MSC Meraviglia 2011 1,245
MSC Favolosa 2012 1,275

That is 130% growth in passenger capacity in just five years.  What is the impact on market share?  From a worldwide market share in 2009 of 4.3% to 5.1% in 2012.  Doesn't sound like much?  That eight tenth of an extra percentage point alone means $230 million in gross revenue from a $29 billion 2012 worldwide cruise market.

Another eye opener, the MSC Fantasia was scheduled to host U.S. President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and other leaders from Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada at the G8 "Group of Eight" Summit in Italy early July. While those plans were scrapped when Silvio Berlusconi switched the venue from La Maddalena to L'Aquila, MSC Cruises nevertheless remains on a fast track.


Carnival FunHub is Like A Dream

DSC01255When my wife and I moved to Miami we fondly told each other "it's like a dream."  The dream kept growing, as she is now working on the Carnival Dream's set-up in Montefalcone, Italy.  Scheduled for its first sailing Sept. 21, it will be Carnival's largest ship.  As if these two things weren't enough to get excited about, is eager to experience the new on-board technological features, dubbed the "FunHub."

The FunHub creates the cruise industry's first on-board social network, along with access to ship's services, facilities and daily activities information.

Guests can:

  • create a personal profile to meet and interact with others on-board
  • create groups based on interests
  • find details about the Dream's numerous on-board activities
  • browse food and beverage offerings
  • learn about ports of call and excursions
  • access weather updates
  • read biographies of key shipboard personnel and see ship maps
  • receive cruise director announcements
  • participate interactive polls

I think this is a really smart, forward looking move (in fact, one I preached about in an Sept. '08 blog post and subsequently developed similar features into our own iPhone application for cruisers that is waiting iTunes review).  I applaud the year-long collaboration involving Carnival's hotel operations, marketing, IT and guest experience departments.

In addition to FunHub portals, access to the FunHub is available on any guest computer or Wi-Fi enabled device free of charge.  Internet access to sites outside the FunHub is available with purchase of a special Internet package.

Follow Carnival's Dream Team of 12 I/S managers here

Why Choose to Cruise?

Many reasons, but none more important than what real customers have to say.  Here are some video comments from real cruisers interviewed by July 18th at the Port of Miami.

Decision criteria in ship selection from onboard interviews are summarized on our research page.

Passion Cruise Brand equals Pricing Power

Below are price ranges for three different contemporary cruise lines for August 2009 sailings, balcony cabin, all 7-day eastern Caribbean cruises:

  • Brand 1 = $739 - $1,309
  • Brand 2 = $999 - $1,149
  • Brand 3 = $1,463 - $2,309

Why is one line able to fill cabins at rates 50% to 100% higher than the others?  Why are consumers willing to pay a steep premium even in tough economic times?

It is due to passion - consumer's passion for the brand.  Review the passion pyramid below.  At its pinnacle is aspirational attainment - a brands ability to fulfill a market's goals and dreams.  Consumers who get here feel a kinship with the brand, they are where they belong and are willing to pay to get there.  At the bottom is the mass market, where there is no pricing power because the vacation experience is a commodity competing on price.


Consider an example from the auto industry, where consumers pay more to purchase and maintain large SUV's with four-wheel drives that are rarely if ever engaged.  What is engaged is the fulfillment of the dream or idea that one could escape - a member of the group that can climb mountains and steer around avalanches - even if it is only on the way to the suburban grocery store.

A family vacation at its core is functional, but the choice of what vacation you take is "what does it say about me."  Consumers today consciously choose to associate with your brand.  It is the label you use to display your kinship, like kachina dolls displayed in Native American Hopi family dwellings to designate membership in various clans.  It is not just your vacation, it is telling others who you are.


And who is willing to pay a 100% premium for a contemporary cruise?  Consumers who aspire to become members of the Disney clan.  Disney's power is derived from the fact they are not communicating in monologue, but engaging across multiple channels; cable networks, teenage pop stars, theme parks and 80-year-old characters that are cultural icons.  Professor Ludwig Von Drake introduces me to cruising via podcast on my iPhone.

prof-von-drakeMost recently Disney Cruise Line is partnering with Kodak and Disney Channel to deliver themed cruises where cruisers will mingle with stars from Disney Channel shows like Hannah Montana, Sonny With A Chance, The Suite Life on Deck, JONAS, Camp Rock and High School Musical.  All complete with autograph session and live performances.

"A dream come true for hundreds of kids this summer by offering kids the possibility to hang out with their favorite Disney Channel stars."

Now that is something to aspire to.