FUN is scaring my Mum


My parents have just booked on Carnival Sunshine, formerly the Carnival Destiny, and when built the worlds largest cruise ship and the first passenger ship to exceed 100,000 GRT. The ship has had a significant refurbishment and will be cruising the Mediterranean.

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What does Costa Victoria, Celebrity Century & Minerva have in common?

Along with Carnival Paradise, Costa NeoRomantica, Seabourn Legend amongst others… They have had Balcony Surgery. It’s the latest fad in the cruise industry and cruise lines are jumping head of heels to add Balconies to their fleet. Continue reading

Windstar Gets New Look

Since we started blogging We have been covering the takeover of Windstar Cruises by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Now Windstar has provided pictures of the stunning refurbishment planned for its smaller cruise yachts; Wind Star and Wind Spirit.

These amazing cruise yachts are among my favourite cruise ships, with their sleek sails soaring into the sky these amazing refurbishment look set to keep them fresh & modern.
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What Does 2012 Have In Store?

2012 is nearly upon us, so what do we have to look forward to in the next year. Well five new cruise ships will be joining the oceans, Norwegian Cruise Line will be listing on the stock market and Costa Romantica will emerge as Costa NeoRomantica, after a daring refurbishment. So heres our guesstimations for the next year:
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Voyager joins Voyages of Discovery

All Leisure Group PLC, the largest British cruise operator, which own Swan Hellenic, Voyages of Discovery and Hebridean Island Cruises has announced a change in its line up.

Voyages of Discovery, which operates the former Love Boat ‘Discovery’ is to be joined by former Alexander von Humboldt of Phoenix Reisen. The ship was acquired by auction follow the collapse of former owners ClubCruise. She is to be renamed Voyager and will target a younger client than is usually expected of Voyages of Discovery.

In 2013 Discovery will also move to this new less formal type cruising offering more dining options. The onboard product will not be changed to much, just refined to welcome new customers, and give regulars a slightly different experience. Voyager will be joining the Voyages of Discovery fleet in November 2012, so there is plenty of time to save up for your cruise!

Minerva, the sole ship of Swan Hellenic will also undergo a substantial refurbishment, adding more balcony cabins, meaning 23% of cabins will have balconies. the Cabins will be refreshed and a new observation lounge will be added, it will be interesting to see what effect these refurbishment will have on the exterior of Minerva.

The charter of the Minerva has been extended for another 8 years til 2021.
The Ship will go into try dock in November 2011 and be back in service in March 2012.

In addition Hebridean Island Cruises will be joining the river cruise market, with four sailings on the Royal Crown, a 42-cabin luxury river cruise ship. The Royal Crown will be sailing down the Rhine and Danube in the Spring and Autumn of 2012. Under its previous ownership Hebridean grew its business worldwide with the Hebridean Spirit, A Project that didn’t work and led to the bankruptcy of its previous owner. It will be interesting to see how this ‘brand extension’ works out.

It is our belief that the charter would have been better operated under Swan Hellenic, which has a history of running river cruises. However we wish All Leisure Group the best in their new adventure & voyager!

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Cruise Line Brand Positioning

Our last blog, On Where does Princess fit? made me us think about how cruise lines have moved an developed their brand positioning. In Bob Dickinsons ‘Selling The Sea’ [We’ve got a blog for that] it covers how Norwegian Cruise Line has changed it’s brand positioning.

From Memory we would say that Norwegian has had the most logos of any cruise line, but with some more research the ‘Freestyle’ cruise line hasn’t always been so laid back.
This advert from 1991 markets the ships in a slightly comic way, we think the joke at the end is just awful. But non the less.

However by 1995 Norwegian Cruise Line had grown up and sexed up. According to Bob Dickinsons ‘Selling the Sea’ this was because of Norwegians lack of new build orders, due to ongoing financial problems. The line had not launched a ship since 1993, while competitors where adding many new ships.

A change in management with a new President Adam Aron meant that NCL tried to differentiate itself from the competitors, so the slogan ‘Its Different Out Here’ was launched. The aim of the marketing campaign was to take the emphasis off the ship and put it on the benefits of taking a cruise.

The campaign was well received by the advertising industry, but less so by the cruise industry, who believed that NCL were overselling themselves. From the adverts it appeared that NCL was equivalent to Seabourn or any other premium line. Other said the campaign scared people away from cruising as to ‘snobby’.

Now in the 21st Century NCL promotes itself as a freestyle cruise line, decidedly different, we believe, from its previous advertising. However we believe that this position in the market suits it well. [We Have A History of NCL Blog]

Cunard Line has transformed itself from a transatlantic carrier into a premium cruise line, In the 1950’s passengers sailed on the Queen Mary & Queen Elizabeth, but they were not the luxury ocean liners that they are now portrayed as, these ships had three classes. We don’t believe that 3rd Class was as luxurious as Cunard’s current product. The modern-day equivalent being airplane economy class.

Recently Royal Caribbean has transformed its self from an Upper-Mass Market cruise line into a Mass Market cruise line. This change started with the Voyager of the Seas, and has continued on both the Freedom and Oasis class.

Previously Royal Caribbean prided itself on all the free items you receive in your cabin, now they pride themselves in being innovative and modern. Royal Caribbean has they way it is perceived. If you compare the Vision class ships with the Oasis class you can see how much Royal Caribbean’s product has changed, it is so significant that Royal Caribbean has launched the Royal Advantage refurbishment program to bring the fleet into line. [We have a blog for that too]

Changing a market position for a cruise line is difficult, In our ‘The Rise and Fall of’ Series  we pointed out how Premier changed their market positioning more times than the weather, which probably assisted its demise [Check that blog here]

It was the Top Ten Cruise Adverts blog that inspired us to do this blog! –

Do you have any examples of cruise lines which have changed how they market themselves? Let us know! Facebook, Twitter, Comment and Email!

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A Life on the Ocean Waves

A life at sea is something which has tempted many a sailor in to the maritime industry, now there are several plans to launch floating communities. As every other blog is full or NCL’s stock market listing and Royal Caribbean’s ‘Royal Advantage’ refurbishment program (which we covered here), we thought we would do something different!

In 2002 ResidenSea launched The World, the first ocean-going community, the ship cruises the world and spends longer in ports. The ship has all the main functions of a cruise ship, with five restaurants, movie theatre, grocery store, casino, putting green, and library, the ships cabins benefit from private kitchen facilities. The World’s capacity varies from 100 to 300 passengers due to the residents having guests. The ship is 196 meters long and 30 meters wide, being 12 decks high, there is 250 crew members onboard.

The ship has not however been the great success that was hoped for, with disputes between the vessel management company and the residents and sales of the residences on the ship have fallen, due to worries about fuel prices, terrorism and the economy in general.

This however has not stopped rivals organisations trying to build similar vessels, the cruise ship Magellan and Utopia are two of the most developed projects. However Magellan appears to have stalled and the website has been taken down, if constructed Magellan would have been almost twice the size of ‘The World’.

Utopia is planned to be a Hybrid cruise ship/floating community with the ship having cabins targeted at the traditional cruise market, this keeps restaurants busy and stops the ship from appearing to be a ghost ship. It is planned to be built in South Korea.

In addition there has been the suggestion that a cruise ship could be converted for the elderly as a retirement residence. The American Classic Voyages, which collapsed after 9/11, the Cape May Light and Cape Cod Light, which have been laid up for several years following the bankruptcy of AMCV, a business case is being developed for the conversion.

There is of course the required ‘Pie-in-the-sky’ scheme, which in our case is the Freedom ship, development of the project started in the 1990’s, and calls for a ship over 1300 meters long, with an airstrip on the top deck, and accommodation for 50,000 people.

The ship would be three times larger than anything to have ever sailed the seas before.
The ship would be composed of several floating barges as the stresses would cause the ship to break up if constructed conventionally. Initially the ‘in service’ date was intended to be 2001, however no construction has started.

We think river cruise ships would actually provide interesting floating homes due to the smaller size, and the lower start-up cost, especially the new Viking longships project vessels. (Check out our blog on River Cruises & the Viking Longships project)

So would you live at sea? Let us know Email, Comment, Facebook & Twitter.

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Out with the old and….In with the refurbished?

As the Global Economy has stalled, cruise line have worked hard to keep vessels full, and weather the storm. Carnival axed its dividend…Royal Caribbean …er… got the Worlds two largest cruise ships drastically increasing capacity… okay, bad example. (We have a blog for that)

But as the growth of the industry has created a market of ‘large players’ namely Carnival, NCL/Apollo/Star, Royal Caribbean and MSC. The number of smaller-medium sized players have disappeared. This has been great as it has stabilised prices (as these smaller lines where heavy discounters). However the large players used the smaller players to dispose of excess capacity, such as the Song of Norway-era vessels.

However in the late 90’s and early 2000’s Festival, Royal Olympic, Regency, Premier and American Classic Voyages all collapsed into bankruptcy. These are the companies who would have purchased the excess capacity from the growing lines.

This has meant that lines have had to place tonnage elsewhere, the easy card has always been Australia, Asia and Europe. Pullmantur has seen a series of transfers from Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. Ibero Cruceros, Carnival’s Spanish brand, has seen a few vessels transferred from Carnival Cruise Lines, as they are no longer competitive in the Caribbean.
Once the worlds largest cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas has been sent to Asia in search of higher yields. (We have a blog for that too!)

The Norwegian Dawn has become the unwanted cruise ship, at an inappropriate age that no cruise market wants her, she has been idle for a few years now and is in ownership of Star Cruises.

Recently this has meant that cruise ships are having expensive ‘refreshment’ programs, keeping them up to date with the other vessels in the fleet. Royal Caribbean has launched a $300 Million refreshment of its fleet bringing aspects from the Oasis class across the fleet, this is widely covered on other websites and blogs, Royal Caribbean is calling it the Royal Advantage program. Interestingly Monarch & Majesty of the Seas are not on the refurbishment list, We expect them to join one of RCI’s other brands.

Carnival has been refurbishing the Carnival Fantasy ships, adding amazing water parks to the ships. Other lines have also been engaged in this such as Celebrity following the arrival of Solstice, and Holland America performed a ‘Signature of Excellence’ refurbishment across the fleet to standardise the product.

So cruise lines are having to keep hold of ships longer, and refurbish them to maintain standards and expectations across the brand, this is due to variety of reasons namely:
– Few middle tier players to sell to (Louis being the main)
Over capacity in the Med, leading to falling yield

But we are hearing great reviews following the refreshment of these ships such as Radiance of the Seas and Grand Princess. So long may it continue.

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