PHOTO: Oprah Winfrey Adventure. (photo courtesy of Holland America Line)
Celebrity chefs are certainly popular at sea, and now Oprah will soon be coming aboard Holland America Line, as a brand and in person.
So, who could be the next big celebrity personalities to shake things up on cruise ships?
Brand partnerships are clever ways in which cruise lines employ the halo effect to get newcomers on board their fleets. The thinking goes that if a certain brand is attractive to a consumer on land, then that appeal is likely to extend at sea and to the cruise line hosting it.
In the past, that has most commonly been applied towards cuisine with the likes of Guy Fieri to Thomas Keller.
Now Holland America Line is testing the waters with Oprah and her “O, The Oprah Magazine” brand to see if that approach might extend beyond food into activities and entertainment as well. The line was previously successful partnering with “Dancing with the Stars” for a “Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” itinerary, but that programming was not tied to a singular celebrity personality.
If Oprah is a hit when she comes aboard the Eurodam on July 15-22, 2017 in Alaska, and her brand extends to other ships, it may be the start of a new trend.
READ MORE: Cruise with Oprah: Holland America Line Partners with 'O, The Oprah Magazine'
So, let’s think about some other celebrities that might have similar applications.
Seemingly taking off from where “The Oprah Winfrey Show” left off in popularity is “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which is a current daytime syndicated juggernaut. Not only is Ellen a great talk show host, she is also an accomplished stand-up comedian and actress.
One could easily see her brand applying to cruise ships, maybe even Carnival Cruise Line (corporate cousin to Holland America Line) in conjunction with its Punchliner Comedy Club. Now that George Lopez is no longer presenting the comedy program, she could take it over and then some.
What about even late night talk show hosts?
In the current heated political climate, Stephen Colbert is the hot ticket, but he may be too polarizing at sea. Meanwhile, Jimmy Fallon and James Corden have everyman qualities that are approachable and multifaceted. After all, Fallon now has an amusement park attraction at Universal Studios Florida, so the sky’s the limit.
Of course, if it’s synergy you’re after, Jimmy Kimmel’s association with ABC and the larger Walt Disney Company would make him a perfect fit with Disney Cruise Line, but that might be the one line that least requires any additional brand associations, what with Pixar, Lucasfilm and more onboard already.
READ MORE: What Restaurants and Chefs Will Cruise Ships Bring Aboard Next?
Love them or hate them, other personalities to consider just might be full-on reality television stars, though their polarizing nature may be unsuitable.
So, don’t expect the Kardashians or any housewives onboard anytime soon. However, there are certain reality TV shows with staying power that might be a better fit overall, not unlike “Dancing with the Stars,” perhaps partnering up with their celebrity hosts in the process.
Consider “Survivor” and Jeff Probst or “The Amazing Race” and Phil Keoghan.
“Dancing with the Stars: At Sea” never brought on the hosts. The professional dancers and celebrities were great, don’t get me wrong, but I wonder what the hosts themselves could bring to the table. Certainly, Probst and Keoghan have a following, and their respective shows offer plenty in the way of promotional opportunities for any cruise line willing to ante up to a licensing deal.
Or what about something in collaboration with the Travel Channel and Samantha Brown?
Cruise lines have dabbled in these arenas before. Carnival Corporation sponsored “The Apprentice,” and Celebrity Cruises was featured on “Project Runway.” Still, I’d like to see one take it a step farther; There are plenty of celebrity personalities out there, and lots of imaginative ways in which to partner with them.
I’m available for consultation.