Where does Princess Fit?

Now this make come across as a strange article, but Carnival Corporation & PLC has not developed how we expected. Following the merger of P&O Princess Plc and Carnival Corporation we expected Princess Cruises to be sold or dissolved into other brands.

This belief was held by a belief that Carnival, P&O, Holland America, Costa and Cunard all serve as viable alternatives to ‘the love boat’. Until recently the lack of a new design or strong promotion around new builds has made us believe that perhaps Princess might be sold to a Private Equity Group a la Norwegian Cruise Line.

However the recent committment of the ‘new’ Royal Princess and the yet un-named sister has made us believe that perhaps Carnival will continue with the brand. Our expectations of what would have happened if Princess was dissolved would be:

Ocean & Pacific Princess – To Seabourn
Coral & Island Princess – To Cunard
Sun, Sea & Dawn Princess – To Holland America Line
Golden & Star Princess – To Aida
Grand, Ruby, Caribbean & Crown Princess – To P&O Cruises
Diamond & Sapphire Princess – To P&O Australia
Emereld Princess – To Ibero Cruises

While this may seem a strange strategy we just don’t feel that Princess has a strong brand. All of the ships being appropriately refitted for the new respective fleets would mean that all of them had strong selling points, but too us Princess is just a cruise line.

But if Princess was sold, who would buy it?
Royal Caribbean – No, I don’t think they would, Princess is too close a brand to Celebrity & Royal Caribbean, however this would be a once in a lifetime purchase so could be expected. Somewhere we believe that Princess is a close competitor of Celebrity Cruises, but Celebrity’s new Solstice class ships have put them in a different league
MSC – Maybe, they are quickly growing their cruise operations, Princess would provide a great leap into the American market.
NCL – Again maybe, as a more traditional and premium brand compared to NCL.

Carnival is all for ‘fun’ with their famous ‘fun ships’, Cunard is ocean liners and a bygone world, Norwegian is the freestyle cruise line to what you want when you want. Royal Caribbean is the ‘wow…this thing floats’ cruise line, MSC is the italian cruise line. But what is Princess? We’re not sure, it is no longer the love boat. While under the P&O Group umbrella they were known for innovation, with Grand Princess having an amazing amount of balconies when Carnival were still building the fascination class (with very few balconies!) Grand Princess also had the famous ‘Skywalkers’ giving the ship a profile similar to that of a shopping trolley, revolutionary at the time. We also believe it was Princess who first introduced movies & TV’s on cruise ships pool areas. Where has the inventive streak gone? Royal Caribbean perhaps?

As part of P&O Princess Cruises Plc, Princess played the part of the mass market American cruise line, with P&O as the British, Ocean Village as the British Family, Aida as the German, P&O Australia as the Australian and Swan Hellenic as the Discovery/Adventure. At this time I believe Princess was a competitor of Holland America, essentially serving the same market, Alaska.

 But in the present day Carnival Corporation & PLC, We wonder where Princess fits in the overall strategy. Our guess would be that by disposing of Princess, Carnival would lose market share. With so many brands in Carnival stable it is not hard to wonder how one might lose its image, with Holland America and Princess in the same ownership has Princess lost its touch?

However all of the above is obviously just nonsense as they have just ordered the new Royal Princess, We would like Princess to develop for what we feel it should be, Princess should be World Cruises, Alaska, Northern Europe, Australia and Japan. Princess recently appointed a UK director Paul Ludlow will hopefully meant that Princess image confusion is being worked on. Otherwise I fear the ‘escape completely’ slogan may prove to be true for this line!

What do you think about Princess Cruises? Have you cruised with them? Where do you think they stand in the market? Email us, Comment, Twitter & Facebook!

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Liam@crociere.co.uk
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The Queen of Bermuda

A three funnelled, British flag, British built ship sailing out of New York in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s & 60’s? Any Ideas? No Its not the Queen Mary, It is of course the Queen of Bermuda.

Entering Service in February 1933 the Queen of Bermuda was one of two ships nicknamed ‘the Honeymoon Ships’ & ‘the Millionaires Ships’. Her sister being the slightly older Monarch of Bermuda. They were ordered by Furness Bermuda Line for a weekly service out of New York to Bermuda, and became very popular for the wealthy and the newly wed.

The ships were built of a high standard for the time, with ornate public rooms a large amount of deck space and private facilities in all cabins. The ship has a great ocean liner profile, with three funnels she could very easily have been mistaken for the Queen Mary. However she was much smaller  at 580ft long and 22,500 tons.

However due to the outbreak of war the sister ships were handed to the British Admiralty in September 1939, at just six years old, in Harland & Wolff the ships fixtures and fittings were removed and in 1940 her third funnel, which was in fact fake, was removed.

Returning to service post war in 1949, her sister ship the Monarch of Bermuda burned out during refitting, she was however salvaged and sold on for further service. She was joined in 1951 by her new fleetmate the Ocean Monarch, which was designed to assist on the Bermuda service but also make longer cruises to the Caribbean. The concept of the OCean Monarch proved so successful that Furness decided to modernise the liner, now nearly 30 years old, to a similar design.

She entered re-entered service with only one funnel and a lengthened bow, giving her a much more modern profile. She was also air-conditioned throughout on her return to New York she was given a fire boat welcome, only matched by those of new ships.

However due to several disasters at the time, regulations grew tighter, and the British ownership was causing problems. Home Lines new Oceanic revolutionised the cruising scene making the Queen look outdated. Furness is reported to have considered various options, but rebuilding proved to be too costly, so the ship was sold for scarp at Faslane.

She did in her lifetime however manage to make it into the elite group of model ships made by Dinky!

On her last sailing her Captain M. E. Musson, is quoted as saying ‘All good things must come to an end’. Interestingly enough her former sister ship the Monarch of Bermuda was being  scrapped in Spain at the same time. Furness also looked towards a new concept of ‘Bed & Break fast cruise ships, which we looked into in ‘Why Hasn’t low-cost cruising taken off?‘ & ‘The Problem of Pricing’

Do you have any memories of this wonderful ship? Comment, Facebook, Email & Twitter!

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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Liverpool Cruise Calls 2012

Liverpool will see one of its best years of cruise ship visits next year, and we have complied the list of cruise ships visiting in 2012. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth will return and P&O will have Arcadia and Adonia calling.

Feel free to right click and save it for your reference.

Sorry about the lack of blogs but I decided to take a break for a few days, its my summer holiday! We will be building a website for cruise visitors, in Southampton they have the Cruise Southampton organisations which uses a website and twitter to assist cruise passengers, we will be planning something similar. If you have any suggestions get in contact!

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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Sustainable Tourism #cruisechat

For those of you who are twitter, this weeks #cruisechat is on sustainable tourism. We along with CruiseBuzz will be hosting this #cruisechat.

If you don’t know about Sustainable Tourism, you can check our blogs below;

Can the Islands Cope?
Green Cruising
Sustainable Tourism and Cruising
Talking Sustainable Tourism with Windstar Cruises

Sustainable tourism is about much more than recycling a few empty beer bottles, it’s about how to make a positive impact on the environment that you are visiting, while preserving the cultures and customs of the island. The above blogs will hopefully familiarise you with the concept.

The #cruisechat will take place at 7pm BST, on twitter. We hope to see you there!

If you have any questions, ideas or suggestions. Get in contact, Comment, Email, Twitter & Facebook

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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LiverBoat : My First Adventure with a Vessel Charter

On 14th August 2010 I hosted my first business endeavour, LiverBoat. It is probably my greatest achievement so far but it is also my biggest failure. I didn’t really want this blog to be about me, and what I’ve done, but I think you will find this story interesting.

In February 2010 I spoke with some friends and decided to charter a Mersey ferry, I spoke with Merseytravel, the owner of the ferries, and arranged a visit to familiarise ourself with the size of the ferry and how the night would work. These ferries aren’t small ferries they carry 370 passengers and have two onboard bars. The Mersey Ferries are made up of the Royal Iris of the Mersey, Snowdrop and the Royal Daffodil. My ferry was the Royal Daffodil.

In case you don’t know I’m twenty, It was quite funny to watch the face of the Merseytravel staff member look at us when she seen how old we were, it was her ‘You’re about four years old, you cannot afford to hire this ferry, what do you think you’re doing’ face. 

However she was really helpful and helped us make decisions about the ship layout and what to expect on the night. She also put me in contact with companies who could provide the electrical & DJ equipment.

Ticket sales were restricted to being sold after 1st April, the hope being that we could build momentum and ticket sales would be quite fast, however the 1st April came and went and ticket sale were slow, this was a significant problem as future promotion was to be funded by early ticket sales. It was expected that friends and family close to those involved would be quick to buy tickets, in fact the opposite was true. This was by far the biggest hole in the business plan.

In an attempt to ramp up ticket sales, thinking once we reached a certain amount all the tickets would quickly sell, we used special offers and promotions, mainly on Facebook.

This proved to be a silly mistake, we ended up basically under cutting ourselves to people who were already going to buy tickets. At the start tickets were only available from the organisers. So we branched out and made them available from two shops in town and from the website www.liverboat.co.uk.  

We did however sign some of Liverpool best DJ’s, one from Liverpool’s top radio station. We expected these to be major pulls, but we just didn’t have the promotion tools to push it to a market larger than our friends. We also pushed the tickets basically from the signing of the charter agreement, this actually just made people hate us, six months of pushing ticket sales for one night. That was a bad marketing strategy.

As an extra pull, we worked with a local nightclub to host an official after party, and a bar in the ferry terminal to host a pre-boarding drinks. These were at no cost to us, but created extra value for our customers and where significant promotion tools.

On the night I was amusingly unable to get onboard my own ship as we couldn’t get into the ferry terminal, having finally got on by waving our vessel charter agreement at people we found the ferry all set up. We however didn’t have enough passengers to fill the ship, by more than half. Ticket sales had been worse than my own worse case scenario. So we closed the top deck, which condensed people into a smaller space, creating the appearance of a busier ferry. The night wasn’t actually so bad, it had a great atmosphere and people seemed to enjoy themselves.

I learnt a lot from my adventure, It was however a financial disaster. Actually It was awful, the loses from the event was more than enough to pay for a cruise for a family of four in the Caribbean (from the UK), Something which still worries me now! But would I do it again, If I could yes, I would, I still feel I have unfinished business with the ferry. It was sad as it was very publicly not the great success I hoped for.

I compare it to (on a significantly smaller scale) the beaching of the Mardi Gras of Carnival Cruise Lines first voyage. Known as the Mardi Gras on the Rocks moment, Since then Carnival has become the most successful passenger shipping business in history, and has achieved what JP Morgan failed. They have taken over Cunard Line, from whose former Head Office my ferry set off from. So maybe I can do something similar too.

The spare web space was used to create this website, so in fact this is a sister project to LiverBoat. I hope you enjoyed that, I was wary about typing this, actually I originally typed this on the 14th August 2011, the year anniversary but wasn’t sure to post.

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk

The Rise and Fall of : Premier Cruise Line


The second in our series of ‘The Rise and Fall of:’ We are covering Premier Cruise Lines. We had some great responses from former Regency Cruises staff when we covered their collapse last month (check the article), we hope we can repeat that with Premier Cruises.

Premier Cruise Lines

Started in 1983 as an arm of the Greyhound bus company it grew by offering holiday packages that included staying in Orlando for Disney World & Universal Studios. The company was sold in 1997 following three years of profits.

This marked a change for the business who soon stopped dealing with Disney, mainly due to the launch of Disney Cruise Line. The company also had a lot of business dealing with European tour operators such as Thomson in the UK, TUI in Germany and Pullmantur in Spain, during the changes in strategy these tour operators started their own operations, which lead to Premier losing their custom.

In an attempt to continue the family friendly theme Premier started a partnership with Warner Bros, However this plan soon began to unravel as Premier’s old ships did not meet the requirements of its passengers. The company took to marketing itself as classic budget vacations with interesting ports of call, This led to a merger with Seawind Cruise Line & Dolphin.

The merged company adopted the common identity of Premier Cruise Lines, and all ships except the Oceanic where given  dark blue hulls, The newly combined company purchased the Rotterdam from Holland America Line and she became the flagship of the new company as the Rembrandt.

However as this plan was underway a change in strategy saw the company return to the family market and rebrand ships as ‘Big Red Boats’. This involved painting the ships hull bright red. Soon reports where abound that Premier was to repaint the famous Rembrandt bright red.

In June 2000 the company dismissed 10% of its workforce and had lost $20,000,000 the previous year. The Ocean Breeze was sold to Imperial Majesty to free up cash in either 1999 or 2000 (reports vary). Like Regency, Premier was hit in 2000 by mechanical problems and fuel prices, as well as lawsuits about lack of disabled facilities on its vessels.

Premier Cruise Lines collapsed into bankruptcy in September 2000, the ships were arrested in ports around the world. The Seattle Times wrote about how this was expected in some travel circles, with only 13% of Travel Agents offering Premier cruise lines as an option six months before the collapse. (source)

At the time of the collapse Premier Cruise Lines was reportedly the Worlds 5th Largest Cruise company at the time. (It sounds crazy that a cruise line with just 5 ships could be the 5th largest! However 11 Years ago Louis and MSC where smaller, so it is possible!).
2,600 people where onboard the ships when the music stopped, and had to return home.

Premier had no doubt seen a reprieve following the collapse of Regency Cruises (Covered Here) with the company benefiting from the loss of its nearest competitor.

The ships were arrested around the world, With Seawind Crown who was in Barcelona under charter to Pullmantur being arrested there. Most of the fleet was however sent to Freeport, Bahamas.

Since the collapse only two of the fleet members are still in existence. The Rembrandt was purchased by the City of Rotterdam and has been transformed into hotel and conference venue for the city, her performance has been mixed.

SS Oceanic, the original Big Read Boat, has survived and was sold to Pullmantur following the bankruptcy and was later sold on to Japan’s PeaceBoat project, she is still looking great!

Interestingly the Seabreeze sank in December 2000 under suspicious circumstances, the skeleton crew was saved, The ship had a $20Million insurance policy registered against it, despite a scrap value of around $5Million. The ship sank in International waters while under the Panama flag, which means it is the job of the Panamanian authorities to investigate the sinking. The ship was a mere 25 miles outside international waters.

The rest of the fleet Big Red Boat 3 (ex Island Breeze, Festivale and Transvaal Castle), Big Red Boat 2 (ex Eugenio C) and Seawind Crown (ex Vasco Da Gama) were sold for scrap.

So did you work for Premier Cruise Lines, or did you cruise with them? Tell us about your memories and experiences! Comment Below. Facebook. Twitter and Email.

Thanks for Reading,
Liam
Liam@Crociere.co.uk
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If you liked this check out our article on The Rise and Fall of Regency Cruises

BIG & BAD! But Necessary?

Following our post the other day about ‘Can The Islands Cope?‘ We where wondering what could be done to stop the islands from struggling under the weight of these huge cruise ships.

So in a ‘blue-sky thinking brainstorming mind map event’ we decided to ‘step up to the plate’ and make some ‘robust’ decisions on how to continue. We came up with four possible suggestions on how to preserve the culture and identity of these islands from cruising
– Build New Islands & Destinations
– Ban Cruising
– Limit Cruise Passengers
– Build Smaller Ships

We have then rated these on a matrix, to see which options are the most realistic and achievable. You can see our results below.

The main put we are going to pick up on is ‘Build Smaller Ships’, you could probably have guessed that from the title. While these huge cruise ships may not be to everyone’s taste they do broaden the cruising community and improve the economies of scale of the business. In fact in ‘Selling the Sea’ a good point is made that many luxury cruise lines can struggle without being under a large parent company. (I’m referencing Seabourn).

These huge cruise ships OASIS and ALLURE being the main ones we’re thinking about have become destinations in themselves, Personally I’m booked onto Allure of the Seas next year and the choice was of the ship not the destinations. This has made the ships with shopping centres, parks, pools, ice rinks, theatres and fair rides equivalent to building new islands.

It has always been the trend for larger and larger ships, We were surprised by the size of Oceania Marina, which is significantly larger than we where expecting. The above picture shows just how much bigger Royal Caribbeans ships have got since the Song of Norway 40 years ago. The sea isn’t really brown…they are 1/1250 scale models on a table!

In the below picture we can see the giant Oasis of the seas eating one of the AIDA ships!
So back to the mater in hand, Some island have previously consider or even have limited cruise visitors to stop too much damage to their culture and way of life, much of which we covered in our series on Sustainable Tourism. However there has been limited results on this.

Building Smaller Ships will make cruising quite expensive, and could stop people who want to cruise, but under these circumstances can’t afford it, from doing so. And I’m sure most of you will agree that Cruising is something which should be shared!

Lets face it, only Dubai is any good at building Islands although I believe they can make a ‘world cruise’ cheaper and quicker! Check Here! (Opens in a new window)

This leaves one possible solution… BAN CRUISING. I’m writing to my MP now to get this done. This is an important matter.

In the light of the riots across the UK we have gone for a nice light-hearted piece today, we need a laugh, hope you don’t mind 🙂 If you haven’t before, don’t forget to check out Lucy ‘thecruisehound‘ photo blog!

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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Talking Sustainable Tourism with Windstar Cruises

We have been talking about sustainable tourism with Windstar cruises, they have been able to provide us with some great examples as to how they promote the concept of sustainable tourism, and respect the cultures of the destinations they visit.


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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

If you are unfamiliar with the ‘Cruise War’ check our previous article first – Fred Olsen Quits Liverpool (Opens in a new window)
or Check Captain Greybeards blog for a quick Summary

Southampton has paused the building of Cruise Terminal 5 for at least a year, as it waits for the outcome of Liverpool’s Cruise Terminal bid. This can only be seen as an attempt to highlight the belief that state aid to Liverpool distorts competition and ruins free-enterprise. This is based on the currently untested assumption that Liverpool’s state aid could be illegal. In reality this makes no business sense other than to ’cause a scene’. Why Southampton would cut planned capacity increase in a growing industry is beyond me, they are in fact then sacrificing market share, or there was no longer an economic case for T5?

I am trying to write a balance argument, but I am from Liverpool, and want to see cruise ships in Liverpool more and more, but I love business and am passionate about free enterprise.

The flaws I see with Southampton’s argument;
– People don’t want to have to go down to Southampton for a cruise, it takes hours on the train, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds and many others are closer to Liverpool, so choice should be provided.
– Liverpool has received backing from the Government because it needed it, like many other industries, car manufacturing and technology are perfect examples, grants are given to create economic growth.
– The increased awareness of cruising as people see these huge ships in Liverpool would encourage more people to cruise, inevitably sailing out of Southampton as the UK’s leading cruise port.

The flaws I see with Liverpool’s argument;
– As far as we know no cruise line has committed to using the facility, is it going to make economic sense?
– Peel Ports is a commercial business and a government grant is against the concept of free enterprise. A concept I believe very strongly in.
– The cost of building terminal’s and facilities in Liverpool is higher, due to the tidal patterns in Liverpool, The cost of the current floating landing stage is comparable to that of a full terminal in Southampton.

Since it was the late 60’s when Liverpool’s passenger shipping industry declined, Businesses in Southampton would benefit from opening in Liverpool to service the cruise industry, they already have the skill, knowledge and business relations that no local competitors can provide.

With one terminal used for both visiting cruise ships and the proposed turnaround service Liverpool could only really achieve 20/30 cruise turnarounds, and that’s with Cruise Line backing, which is never guaranteed.

The local newspapers, The Daily Echo (Southampton) and The Liverpool Echo & Daily Post have been blowing the news story out of proportion. One of The Daily Echo’s most recent news stories being the shock of Liverpool planning turnaround facilities if the turnaround ban was lifted…WHAT DID THEY EXPECT? If the ban is lifted surely it would make sense to build the suitable facilities. The shoddy journalism is widespread across the three papers.

If you are on twitter keep up-to-date with our #cruisewars updates! Let me know what you think? Is Liverpool flouting state-aid laws?  Twitter, Facebook, Comment & Email

Thanks,
Liam

Liam@crociere.co.uk
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Can the Islands cope?

With cruise ships continuing to grow in size and number are the islands struggling to cope with these additional tourists, who put a stain on everything from sewerage systems to roads and hospitals.

We have been reading ‘Cruise Ship Squeeze: The New Pirates of the Seven Seas’ By Ross A. Klein, which says that cruises destinations are jumping though hoops to attract cruise passengers, with the hope of numerous economic benefits to justify the cost of accommodating the ships. However the economic boom created by cruise ships has not been as powerful as hoped, as large multinational companies have taken the financial benefit as their own. Royal Caribbean actively tried to stop the port feeling overwhelmed by the Oasis of the Seas & Allure of the Seas by building new facilities for the quick transfer of passengers.

The recent and ongoing issue of Charleston is of interest, Charleston historical societies, neighbourhoods and environmental groups have taken a stand against the cruise lines by filing a law suit against Carnival Cruise Lines saying that the Carnival Fantasy flout building regulations. This rather interesting case of classing the ship as a temporary building will be interesting to follow, however the groups in Charleston say the ship has increased traffic issues and gridlock as well as being to tall, and violating environment laws.
If Charleston don’t want Carnival Fantasy, I know Liverpool is after a homeported cruise ship!

Cruise Ship Squeeze points out that some destinations may have developed an overdependence on cruise ships as between 85 and 90% of tourists in Cozumel and the Cayman Islands are Cruise Passengers. In St Thomas and St Maarten  the figure is around 75%. On average St Thomas & St Maarten have 12,000 or more cruise passengers everyday. This is not a hard figure to achieve with Oasis of the Seas carrying around 6,000 passengers.

Many complain that the cruise industry has ruined these islands, with cheap souvenir shops and Jewellery stores opening. With all of this and a significant amount of cruise passengers the port towns lose the appeal that made them great tourist destinations in the first place. It’s not just Caribbean ports which can feel the stress of Cruise Ships, In the Mediterranean Venice and Monaco are just a few which can see thousands of cruise passengers in a day.

Shore Excursions provide jobs…right? Yes they do, but usually the Cruise Line deals with an agent which arranged these excursions, with the cruise line taking a cut, then the agent taking a cut, leaving very little for the local tour guide.

We think this issue which, with the growing size of vessels will only become more important and one destinations will work hard to avoid, except made Charleston!
Do you think some ports are struggling under the sheer number of cruise passengers?
Let us know, Comment, Facebook, Twitter and Email

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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Other Articles in this series ‘Sustainable Cruising’
Green Cruising
Sustainable Tourism and Cruising

* We also have Cruise Ship Squeeze Available from £2.25 at The Crociere Store *