CRUISE THE PLANET
Dance cards were little books used by women at formal dances in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Used to record women’s dance partners, inside were pages listing the names of upcoming dances, seriously social events of the time. Initially blank, a man would ask a woman for a particular dance. If asked properly, the woman pretty much had to dance with him. History recalls dance cards as socially significant, much like the allure of engaging others online is so very social now. Both the dance cards of yesteryear and social platforms of today share common elements: They are popular, provide a bit of structure to our social efforts and are limited by time. Your c? That’s a whole other story.
Yesteryear: “Her dance card is full”
Today: “I don’t have time to engage everyone”
Assuming there is value in following a cruise line; beginning, cultivating and evolving a relationship, there are some that are better than others in this area. Here we have our top picks to fill your cruise line dance card, because we only have time for just so many dances.
Carnival Cruise Line
They did not become the most popular cruise line in the world by missing opportunities to engage their fans. Early on in the social game, senior cruise director John Heald‘s Blog set records and a standard for engaging cruise travelers that has yet to be repeated by any other cruise line. At one point in the development of their social efforts, a Carnival insider told me “We don’t know (yet) why it works, just that it does”. Call it blind faith or a nose for what might work to further the brand, Carnival jumped in with both feet. Their cruise line dance card evolved, diversifying efforts beyond John Heald’s blog as the unflappable Brit appropriately became Carnival’s global brand ambassador.
Well in advance of the decidedly different Carnival Vista, the ship came to life as @CarnivalVista engaged cruise travelers. Capitalizing on Carnival’s The Fun Ships mantra, a talking ship made sense. That same engaging focus continues today as Carnival introduces more travelers to the world of cruise vacations than any other cruise line. Add Carnival Cruise Line to your cruise line dance card by visiting them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and/or Instagram
Moving beyond the super popular Love Boat connection, Princess Cruises was one of the first to engage a new audience of social travelers. A #FollowMeAtSea sailing in 2006 took then emerging Twitter to a new level as travelers followed along on an amazing Escorted Alaska CruiseTour, their premiere Alaska offering. That effort was followed up by 50 Essential Experiences, a blog tapped Princess’ own cruise destination experts to compile a travel bucket list touching 36 countries and 6 continents. The focus on destinations in addition to “the ship is the attraction” served Princess well. Already boasting an extensive book of itineraries that sailed around the world, highlighting already-in-place resources sent Princess soaring, next focusing on the Asian cruise market, well before any other line.
Azamara Club Cruises
What do you do with two older ships that can’t possibly compete head on with brand new ships in the luxury cruise travel segment? Refocus attention on something else. In the case of Azamara Club Cruises, formed by the transformation of two ships from defunct Renaissance Cruises, that focus was on destination immersion, a core value the boutique cruise line continues today.
A recent social push helped focus those efforts as well as Azamara President Larry Pimentel engaged travelers on a daily social basis. Stepping past other cruise lines, their #LoveTravel tag fit like a glove, bringing a new audience and reenergizing the brand.
Here too, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google+ were tapped to cast a wide net from which to source passengers. Adding Flickr Photo Albums and a Blog that brought in fans of popular social sources to the mix further defined the Azamara cruise line dance card.
Holland America Line
As cruise lines go, there are few with a history as rich as Holland America Line. One might easily fail to associate “historic” with today’s social efforts but one would be wrong to do so, especially with Holland America Line. Like sister line Princess Cruises, Holland America Line ships sail diverse itineraries around the world. Different, Holland America Line has picked up the social ball and scored a number of recent home runs, many of which can be attributed to President Orlando Ashford.
Introducing the concept of Collective Intelligence, a process that draws on the capabilities, knowledge and abilities of everyone in the organization to craft new onboard programming, Ashford opened the floodgates of creativity in all areas of operation. In last year’s Holland America Line To Reveal Future we introduced that concept, predicting “it will be that same Intelligent Collective Effort that will fuel the fire behind the ideas, concepts and partnerships to be announced.”
We found that to indeed be the case as those efforts came to a rousing finish and new beginning for Holland America Line with the launch of new ms Koningsdam. On Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and Instagram, Holland America Line brings solid information we can use in advance of an upcoming cruise, take a look back at previous sailings or dream about the future.
Viking River Cruises
Introducing an entirely different concept, first in river cruising, then in the oceans of the world, Viking Cruises strong social presence as served them well. When Viking River Cruises launched their revolutionary Viking Longships, social media was tapped at a time when other river cruise lines thought little of it. After all, social media was for younger people, not the older traveler that had time for a river cruise, right? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Viking’s multi-faceted marketing efforts included a heavy dose of social applications with rich resources that continue to develop online.
Quite frankly, were it not for the social focus of Viking River Cruises, we might not have taken our first river cruise. That would have been a real shame. Our hunger for travel was sparked on big ship Caribbean sailings. Traveling with Viking pushed us to a different level, effectively pouring gasoline on an already robust fire. All along the way, the social efforts of Viking River Cruises which proved to be a perfect fit in a number of ways.
Clearly ahead of the pack, Viking River Cruises continues a clear brand message, making the seamless integration of destination immersion in all they do their top priority. In the mailbox, would-be river cruise travelers find colorful brochures from a familiar company. That familiarity comes from pinpoint accurate sponsorship of television programming reflective of the culturally curious travelers they resonate with. Getting closer to a first time buying decision, Viking is there every step of the way, entertaining and educating future fans as no other cruise line ever has or is likely to emulate. Frankly, most of the other guys just don’t get it. Viking proves they do on each and every river cruise, sourcing local ingredients, beer and wine to serve along the way, reflective of the places they are engaging along the way. At each destination, an included tour of the day takes those travelers off ships and on to shore. Once there they enjoy a Viking view of interesting places those same travelers may have visited before, some other way. This is Viking, the experience, which is fully supported by intense social effort via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram and YouTube.
Viking Ocean Cruises
At the request of Viking River Cruise passengers, the Viking organization vowed to redefine ocean cruising in a similar way. Addressing the shortcomings of a cruise industry that, for many, had lost its way, Viking Ocean Cruises was born. Quite quickly the Viking ocean product carved out its own unique travel space, bringing and onboard choreography no other cruise line was producing. Recently voted the #1 cruise line in the world by the well-traveled readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, Viking Cruises is well on its way to being the line of choice for travelers who appreciate value and value the entire cruise travel experience. That was no accident either. While Viking the river cruise line begat Viking the ocean cruise line, both are uniquely different, standalone products. To say “if you felt at home on a Viking river cruise, you’ll fit right in on a Viking ocean cruise” is quite accurate. Still, while both the river and ocean experience are totally different than what competitors are doing, they are also different from each other.
Common elements between the two include a wealth of online resources available online, real travel documents sent to your home prior to travel, a seamless air program and more. Rounding up both experiences with a synergy that brings more than the sum of both efforts, Karine Hagen conducts the onboard programming choreography like the director of a philharmonic orchestra. Recently introduced, Viking’s Exploring More (www.ExploringMore.com) standalone website featuring Ms Hagen, daughter of Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen and Vice President of the family-owned company.
Your host for an engaging array of short film video, Karine opens doors to a world of travel in a way that moves far beyond the results clever marketing strategies, advertising and social efforts could possibly bring to the table. Time will prove Vikings Exploring More website a must-have feature as the other guys wake up and try to meet or exceed the stellar experience Viking delivers.
Today’s Marvelous Dance Card
Interestingly while the dance card of yesteryear focused on traditional roles of men asking women to dance, a huge benefit of today’s social application has been to bring far more people into the mix. Tapping all races, religions, orientations, ages and backgrounds for a far more worldly view of travel, today’s social focus is actually nothing new for cruise lines. Sourcing crew members from around the world, we find like minded passengers that share a common love for travel. It might be a new love, sparked by the efforts of any one of the above sellers of travel. That love might be an evolution of all things we hold dear, reflected in what we experience via the safe, closed environment of a cruise ship. Or it might be just as simple as that dance card that has only so many slots to fill. Chosen wisely, a fabulous experience can result.