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!