April 15, 2021

Troubled cruise line brochures we’d like to see

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SPC-walton10p-3-10By Thomas Walton Blade Columnist

It’s official: Ocean cruising is not necessarily good for your health.

A year ago, an engine fire left Carnival Cruise Lines’ Triumph adrift without power for days. Air conditioning was knocked out, and for many passengers, so were working toilets. Off the coast of Italy, they’re still trying to haul away what’s left of the Costa Concordia.

Princess Cruise Lines recently had to cut short a cruise on its Caribbean Princess after nearly 200 passengers and crew were stricken by an outbreak of gastrointestinal distress (Too much information? You decide). At least three other outbreaks have occurred this year, two on Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and one on Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Maybe the problems are a predictable result of the exploding popularity of deep-sea cruising. You put 4,000 or more people in shoulder-to-shoulder proximity for a week, and even hosing them down with Purell might not help. It may take a village to raise a child, but a crowded village can raise havoc.

The good news is that the news is not all bad. You see sick people. I see marketing opportunities. I think the cruise lines should get to work, turn these negatives into positives, and even generate a little revenue.

Nervous about that cruise to Aruba you just booked? I think your cruise line ought to reassure you that all is well — although it’ll cost you — perhaps with a brochure that says this:

Reckless Abandon Cruise Lines is pleased to remind the traveling public that per government regulations, every ship in our fleet is equipped with enough lifeboats to evacuate every passenger safely — for a small fee. Now, for the first time, we offer three categories of rescue in our lifeboats.

Category 3 is just $50 per person, but includes no amenities other than a place to stand and hang on. No food. No water. No toilet. Sort of like staying on board the stricken ship.

Category 2 is available for $100 per person. For that, you receive all the benefits of Category 3 plus a life-preserver key chain as a souvenir just for sailing with Reckless Abandon.

However, why not pay a bit extra to ride out the crisis in comfort? For just $200 more per person, you get a reserved seat in our rescue tender — we call it our “Tender Mercy” option. You also receive a military-style ration kit, a spot in line for the porta-potty, a CD of the stirring Navy hymn “For Those in Peril on the Sea,” and a complimentary 8-by-10 glossy photo to document your adventure for the folks back home.

Worried that the food at sea might make you sick? Leave your concerns on shore and book with Howdy Doody Cruise Lines. Here’s a brochure my sources say they’re working on:

Howdy Doody Cruise Lines announces a new dining option now available on all our cruises: bring your own food. Guests will now be permitted to bring one portable cooler aboard per cabin — and one hibachi. For an extra fee, Howdy Doody will provide the charcoal.

Food must be cooked on your balcony, not inside the stateroom. Passengers in interior cabins will be issued Spam in colorful souvenir containers they can take home. Paper plates and plastic flatware will be available for a small charge.

Are you a traveler who cruises not only to escape, but also to gain an appreciation of history? Mea Culpa Cruise Lines, I’m told, is about to announce the following:

Looking for the ultimate seagoing adventure, one with some history attached? Consider our new Mayflower cruise. Spend three months crossing the Atlantic aboard a vessel with no power, no working plumbing, and slowly rotting food. That’s right — we turn everything off, so you can gain a new appreciation of what the Pilgrims endured on their way to brutal winters in the new world.

Since the Pilgrims had no exercise equipment, you won’t either. Our fitness center will be closed and locked. However, you will be encouraged to stay shipshape by volunteering for rowing duty.

Row, row, row your boat, and receive a $50 shipboard credit toward the purchase of a beverage package that features unlimited grog and a refillable mug. Trust us, this will be a popular option.

Also, sign up early for our red meat dining plan, available the first week of your cruise only. Or you could wait until week two and get it at a sharp discount.

Finally, you could book a cabin on Mishap Cruise Lines’ Hokey Pokey Cruise. I’m quoting from their brochure:

Yes, it’s true that we have screwed up a lot lately, but we are determined to turn ourselves around.

Thomas Walton is the retired editor and vice president of The Blade. His column appears every other Monday. His commentary, “Life As We Know It,” can be heard each Monday at 5:44 p.m. on WGTE-FM 91.

For more on this story go to: http://www.toledoblade.com/Tom-Walton/2014/03/10/Troubled-cruise-line-brochures-we-d-like-to-see.html#VeMzu3BZFLSVq27C.99

Related story:

Cruise outlook: industry hopes for stability

By Andrew Sheivachman from Travel Market Report

After being battered by safety issues in 2013, the cruise industry and cruise-selling agents see 2014 shaping up to be a strong year.

Among positive forces they cite are multigenerational travel, ship upgrades that should appeal to a far more multifaceted and diverse array of cruisers than in the past, and the continued popularity of river cruises.

In ocean cruising, pricing continues to be the overriding challenge, exacerbated this year by heavy capacity in the Caribbean.

Travel Market Report spoke with industry leaders to learn more about the opportunities and challenges for cruise lines and cruise-selling agents in 2014.

Opportunity: Focus & specialize

“Multigenerational travel is really emerging with the new builds that allow everyone to go off on their own. The key opportunity [for agents] is to really focus and specialize this year. These ships aren’t for your grandmother’s cruise anymore. Adventure travel and food travel are also focuses. Families are looking to enjoy more active activities on and off the ship. Families are traveling and have money to spend. The best thing we can do is to get out there and tell the story that cruising is the best vacation out there.” – Michelle Fee, president, Cruise Planners

Opportunity: better trade relations

“2013 was a huge year in terms of rebuilding Carnival’s relationship with our travel partners. We’ve made many changes, from simplifying our fare structure to bringing back our brochure. In 2014, we look to see a bit of a recovery in our brand and that our advertisements will send more business to travel agents. Agents need to create their own marketing plans and reach out to the BDMs for resources.” – Joni Rein, vice president, worldwide sales, Carnival Cruise Lines

Challenge: Low prices

“We need to get people to pay more for our product, because we offer an experience that is priced far too low. There is so much value we are not being paid for. It’s definitely a consumer’s market. Agents who are able to take advantage of any bouncing back on pricing will be well-positioned.” – Vicki Freed, senior vice president, sales, trade support and service, Royal Caribbean International

Opportunity: river cruise pricing

“Booking for river cruising is done way out. It’s extremely popular and the demand is exceeding supply. We come out with our best offers early and then pull back. We’re no longer going out and discounting to fill the space. We learned this from the large cruise lines.” – Gary Murphy, vice president of sales, AMA Waterways

Challenge: differentiating products

“We now have a lot of capacity in the Caribbean, and that is going to keep prices down and make it hard to differentiate between cruise segments. Hopefully we will see the average yield or pricing go up, and I would love to see more ships move to Alaska. Our challenge as agents this year will be to tell clients the difference between similar cruise products in the same region.” – Matthew Eichhorst, president, ExpediaCruiseShipCenters

Opportunity: Tons of tools

“Agents need to get educated and get in touch with their local salespeople because there are tons of marketing tools to support you. One of the things that surprised me the most is how little some agents talk to their clients. Keep touching your accounts, even if it’s just once a month, and be more proactive. The challenge for us is to reach out to agents, especially home-based agents, and figure out how to touch them in ways they want to get touched.” – Michele Saegesser, vice president of sales for the Americas, Viking Cruises

Opportunity: growth markets

“Group business and multigenerational travel are especially important areas.” – Joni Rein, Carnival Cruise Lines

Opportunity: loyal customers

“Agents need to make cruising their priority in 2014; it gives the best ROI and highest customer satisfaction of any type of vacation. When an agent can articulate that, they are going to have a cruiser that is loyal.” – Vicki Freed, Royal Caribbean International

Opportunity: value-based offers

“This year, the cruise lines have a good mix of offerings going into Wave Season. There are a lot of promos that aren’t focused on price but consumer value, gratuities and onboard credits.” – Matthew Eichhorst, Expedia CruiseShipCenters

Opportunity: popular river cruises

“There is curiosity in the marketplace about river cruising, and the travel public doesn’t really understand what’s involved. I’m always surprised to find that many agents have not taken advantage of this market. Book a group for 2015 now; once that group goes, the returns are huge and the experience becomes an annuity for the agent.” – Gary Murphy, AMA Waterways

For more on this story go to:

http://www.travelmarketreport.com/articles/Cruise-Outlook-Industry-Hopes-for-Stability

 

 

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