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A new MarketScope Global survey - taken of over 6,000 cruise line executives, suppliers, industry analysts and journalists - paints an insightful picture of the current state of cruising, that also looks to the future. Four simple questions were asked, but some of the results are unexpected.
Which of these cruise brands do you recall most recently seeing in a television commercial?
Well ahead of the pack here is Royal Caribbean International with 37.21 percent of respondents indicating the brand is most prevalent in the public eye, and second is Viking Cruises at 13.95 percent. Until recently, Viking consisted only of a river brand but has now expanded with two ocean ships. Clearly, its sponsorship of "Masterpiece Theatre," particularly the television show "Downton Abbey," is paying off in large dividends as its fleet continues to expand.
Tied for the third at 9.3 percent are Norwegian Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruises, itself a corporate cousin to leader Royal Caribbean International, indicating a strong overall marketing presence. Following behind are three Carnival Corporation brands: Princess Cruises at 6.98 percent, Carnival Cruise Line at 4.65 percent and Holland America Line also at 4.65 percent.
Perhaps most interesting is the absence of the Disney Cruise Line on the list, which seems to remain successful by its brand name alone.
READ MORE: CLIA Survey: Long, World Cruises Growing in Popularity
What is the effectiveness of the following promotional approaches for recruiting first-time cruisers?
No matter how much money cruise lines spend on advertising dollars, word of mouth and its social media sibling reign supreme to entice newbies to take up cruise travel. Word of mouth ranks highest with nearly half of all respondents citing it as number one, resulting in a 123 score. It was followed next by social media at 91.
Traditional means of online advertising, public relations and television advertising all nearly tie for third place, scoring between 80 and 82. In other words, friends, family and social influencers have more control in sourcing new guests than any other means.
Are cruise lines prepared for a potential terrorist attack?
Although not a pleasant topic, the question of terrorism in travel comes up frequently, and thankfully cruise ships have not been greatly affected. The preventative solution thus far has been to redeploy ships away from regions susceptible to attacks.
Meanwhile, the perception is that cruise lines are somewhat prepared according to 46.51 percent of respondents followed by 30.23 percent who believe there is no way to prepare for a terrorist attack. Furthermore, 13.69 percent think that the industry is not prepared at all, while 6.98 percent consider it to be very well prepared.
READ MORE: MMGY Study: Travelers Unfazed by Safety Concerns
Which of these multi-brand cruise companies will enter the river cruise business first?
On a brighter note, one last question was asked about how ocean cruise companies might join Viking Cruises and others on the river. To begin with, 45.45 percent of respondents do not think either Carnival Corporation, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. or Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will expand into the river market.
Most surprising is the order in which the companies do line up potentially according to those surveyed. 27.27 percent think that Norwegian would be first followed by Royal Caribbean at 15.15 percent and Carnival at 13.12 percent. It's unexpected because the lineup is inverse to the corporations' size and likely financial ability to deploy on inland waterways. MarketScope Global concluded that Norwegian's top spot, "…may be more of a reflection of the line's perceived innovative nature."
Jason Leppert - Senior Writer, Cruises and Cruise Travel - is a San Diego-based cruising expert with more than 100 sailings...
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