Cruise line promotions increase in number — and complexity

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Norwegian Cruise latest offering

One of the virtues of “123Go!,” which was rolled out by Celebrity Cruises for Wave season six years ago, was its simplicity.

The promotion was as breezy as it sounded. Passengers could pick one of three free promotions when they booked a cruise. If they were going to Europe, they could pick two. That was it.

Whether it was the simplicity of the concept, or the value locked into the choices, or the idea of choice itself, the promotion struck a nerve. Agents cited it as the most successful offer of the Wave season in 2013, and Celebrity extended it until it became part of the line’s standard offering.

Six years later, the promotions of the sort started by “123Go!” are ubiquitous. Nearly every sizeable line has its version.

It started when Celebrity decided to evolve “123Go!” into its 2015 successor campaign “Go Big, Go Better, Go Best.” With this one there were four amenities, not three. And the number of amenities that could be chosen depended on the fare. And third and fourth passengers in the cabin could get a limited amount of internet minutes for free.

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Today, there are a bewildering number of promotional packages for agents to keep track of, all with different terms, expiration dates, geographic applications, exceptions and combinability options.

“The promotions are very complex,” observed veteran agency executive Dwain Wall. “Agents find the consumers are very confused.”

Wall said some cruise lines have taken to spelling out the value of the various terms in their promotion as a result.

Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, has its “Take Six Free” offer, which dangles not three but six different amenities. More choice, more value, right? To be sure. But also more complexity.

In many of its ads, Norwegian puts price tags on the various options as a consumer service. An open bar is valued at $1,400. Free shore excursions: $200. A speciality dining package: $160 in savings; free Internet, $130.

The biggest and latest amenity to be added to the package is airfare, which Norwegian says is worth $600 to $1,900 in savings, depending. Depending on what? Well, you have to dig into the fine print to find out.

In many ways, an advisor’s job is better with these promotions. Free add-ons make closing easier, more amenities broaden the appeal, and preserving or even boosting the fare helps increase commissions. Not to mention that the complexity helps reinforce the concept of an advisor as an indispensable consultant: Who better to comb through the various deals and amenities, walk the client through the options and find them the best combination?

But it should not be lost that in the process the promotions are no longer as simple as “123Go!.”

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With long waits for new builds, current ships get new cabins

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MS Enchantment of the Seas refurbishment/lengthening in 2005

By Tom Stieghorst |Jul 30, 2018.

Ship renovations are big business and getting bigger as cruise lines face long waits at shipyards to build new vessels.

Celebrity Cruises recently announced it will spend $500 million, up from an original target of $400 million, to modernize its fleet and harmonize it with the new class of ships coming, beginning with the Celebrity Edge.

The Edge is coming in November. There are three more copies coming in 2020, 2021 and 2022. So there’s no lack of new capacity for Celebrity. But if it is interested in adding more, getting space at a shipyard is increasingly competitive: major slots already being booked into 2027.

Likewise, at sister-brand Royal Caribbean International, there are newbuilds lined up, starting with the Spectrum of the Seas in 2019. But like Celebrity, Royal is also on a renovation tear. It has budgeted $900 million to upgrade 10 ships over the next four years, but it wouldn’t be surprising if the end amount of its Royal Amplified program is closer to $1 billion.

The first of those ships, the Independence of the Seas, received a total of 107 new cabins in the process of its renovation, which ended up costing Royal $110 million. In addition to a big block of cabins added above the gym, Royal squeezed a few more cabins here and thereby converting areas from other users.

For example, Royal got rid of a cigar smoking venue, moved the library into the former cigar lounge and then carved four cabins from the old library space.

The Mariner of the Seas, the next ship to get amped up, got a $120 million makeover for the short cruise market out of Florida, raising its capacity from 3,114 to 3,344 at a drydock in The Bahamas.

By adding cabins during drydock, Royal Caribbean is swelling its overall fleet capacity in an under the radar way. It is also taking advantage of the availability of renovation shipyards around the world, which although busy, are not as busy as the European yards where ships get built from scratch.

Some of the new entrants that are clogging the shipyard order books, such as Viking Ocean Cruises and Virgin Voyages, are not much competition for drydock space because their ships are all either under construction or are too new to need much work.

So look for the established cruise lines to do more quiet capacity expansion as they upgrade their ships along the way.

Norwegian Changes 2019-2020 Itineraries, Pulls Joy From China

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Norwegian Joy
Norwegian Cruise Line has announced changes to its 2019 and 2020 itineraries. Among these, the Norwegian Joy is leaving China to join the Norwegian Bliss, sailing seasonally in Alaska in the summer 2019, and will offer Mexican Riviera and Panama Canal voyages during the winter 2019-2020. The Norwegian Spirit will replace the Joy in China in 2020, leaving Norwegian out of the Chinese market for one year, and the Spirit will only sail there on a seasonal basis.

The Pearl, which is in Alaska now, will sail to Europe as the cruise line’s sixth ship in the region in summer 2019, while the Jade and Jewel will expand Norwegian’s presence in Australasia in winter the 2019-2020 winter season.

The Joy repositions to Seattle in April 2019 to offer seven-day voyages to Alaska, replacing the Pearl as Norwegian’s third ship in the region, joining the Bliss and Jewel. Prior to her arrival in Seattle, the Joy will undergo approximately $50 million in work to match her sister ship, the Bliss.

When she goes to Europe in 2019, the Pearl will be sailing from Amsterdam as well as Civitavecchia, Barcelona and Venice.

With the Joy on the West Coast, the Jewel will go to Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific, sailing from Honolulu, Papeete, Sydney, Auckland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Yokohama.

In addition, the Jade will offer sailings throughout Southeast Asia departing from Singapore and Hong Kong for the 2019-2020 season.

Norwegian Cruise Line said it remains committed to serving the Chinese cruise market. Prior to her 2020 arrival in China, the 1999-built Spirit will undergo a previously scheduled bow-to-stern revitalization as the final ship to undergo enhancements under the Norwegian Edge® fleet refurbishment program.