UP CLOSE WITH HISTORY
When planning cruise travel, we source information a number of ways. A recommendation from a good friend, travel agent or trusted expert goes a long way to making an intelligent choice. Travel books, guides and online resources help, as do cruise line websites, many of which contain a rich library of information. Social sources give some of the most current information as we follow along while others experience the travel products we might be interested in. It’s all the stuff of which travel dreams are made of and can lead to an informed buying decision. Lately, one of the very best sources of information, something we can hold travel service providers accountable for, is their own version of a cruise vacation, as detailed in branding video.
Regular readers know we enjoy the high standards set by the rich video library of Viking River Cruises. We often compare those video promises to what we actually experience in a Reality Check. Time and time again, there is little disparity between the two. We think that is how it should be for the video efforts of all cruise lines. Don’t you?
Shouldn’t we be able to count on what we see in video being delivered on a consistent basis? I think so.
Hold that thought for a few minutes as we take a look at some new video from a number of cruise lines.
Azamara Club Cruises leads off our look at Dreamy Cruise Line Video with this recent branding clip that introduces how much they #LoveTravel, a currently running social campaign that appears to very closely match our 2012 experience on Azamara Journey.
Obviously we can’t hold the cruise line responsible for the weather (it might be raining when we visit) the demeanor of our fellow passengers (some people travel better than others) or the condition of iconic landmarks visited along the way (ongoing restoration efforts might block a view). Still, reasonable traveler should find the experience very much the same as that depicted in video, uncontrollable variables considered.
Princess Cruises was tapping destinations long before doing so became a trendy thing to do. Recently updating their video library, a number of new offerings have emerged that go beyond a mere representation of what they offer, like this one set in the tropical waters & lush rainforests of North Queensland, the setting for this love story, as Gary and Michelle celebrate their 28 years of marriage.
That the Princess effort taps real people in real life situations is nothing new. Princess has been working on this for quite some time, beginning with their 50 Essential Experiences weekly blog several years ago. That popular effort quickly became a coffee table-quality reference book , followed by another year-long experience, Inspired to Cruise, where Princess Cruises passengers told heart-warming stories of meeting on a cruise ship, places they traveled and more. Then came a series of blog posts titled “Linked by the Sea,” exploring the many relationships that begin, or are rekindled, at sea. Featuring touching stories from both passengers and crew members, Linked By The Sea recounted personal tales of friendship, romance and meaningful connections forged at sea.
Carnival Cruise Line has refocused their video offerings with a 2.0-esque YouTube Channel and a new microsite.
A Friendly, Familiar Face
In our post New Carnival Video Series Nails Big Ship Cruise Experience we talked about “How to Cruise With Travel Pro Samantha Brown” a new series and part of Carnival’s YouTube channel which is sporting a new look and feel. In her typically charming girl next door way, Brown breaks down commonly asked questions about cruise vacations like “What is included in the price?” and, better yet, “What is not included in the price?”, in short easy to swallow videos on a number of first timer subjects.
“While cruising is certainly fun and affordable, not everyone has sailed before so this new series is designed to answer questions and offer some tips for making the most of your time once you’re on board, all in a fun, entertaining and lighthearted way,” said Brown in a press release. Viewing each of the short videos, she really does bring home the talking points of cruise vacations.
Offering streamlined playlists and an optimized mobile experience, the new Carnival YouTube channel also allows consumers to more easily search for topics they’re most interested in.
Fresh New Faces
The Samantha Brown series will also be part of featured content on something new for Carnival, an online travel hub with articles and video by a number of travel and lifestyle bloggers. The dedicated AwayWeGo microsite promises to focus on destinations, culinary options, cruise tips and more with a different voice, tapping new sources of first-time cruise travelers, familiar ground for Carnival.
Written in a “look what I discovered” sort of way, the message will be heard loud and clear by travelers who have not sailed before, especially those in the much desired “young family” group. As trending bloggers work their way through the experience, count on the undeniable value offered by a cruise vacation to be validated by their first-hand relevant personal experiences. A core attraction of big ship cruises, value continues to be a centerpiece of each line’s promise, differentiated by onboard experiences unique to each line.
It will be an interesting process to watch. These are good people, many of which I have met and know to be quite conscientious about what they do in their own unique way. You’ll find them all active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social platforms that bring the experience home in a timely fashion.
Not all that long ago, we too sailed with Carnival Cruise Line as first-time family cruisers, fell in love with the experience and never looked back. But that was then. This is now. As a charter member of CruiseCritic.com, I remember battling it out with other members when Princess Cruises introduced Movies Under The Stars, the giant screen on deck experience that long time cruise fans thought of as a threat to their beloved cruise experience. Today, nearly every cruise line has a version of big screen entertainment on their top deck, along with enough attractions to make a nice little theme park on land.
Interestingly, this news comes at a time when I just retired my first website, LifeIsCruising.com, yesterday, on it’s 15th anniversary. Serving 23,998,392 unique visitors in its life, the site had a tag line of “Discover Cruise Vacations” but had become terribly dated as we focused much more on this blog in recent years. It was time to move along.
Still, throughout the years, the Carnival name has been quite closely associated with “Fun” a capital F. How this new generation of cruise travelers defines Fun will be interesting to see.
Dreamy Cruise Line Video: Accurate Or Not?
Promotional? Yes, you bet. Like any other product, cruise vacations depicted in these and other offerings put their best foot forward. But unlike a number of land vacation offerings, the cruise products we see in video actually are a good representation of what we will see on board.
I am reminded of a television commercial for an all-inclusive land vacation that shows a lovely couple swimming alone in a huge pool on a beautiful, sunny day. Stopping by that all-inclusive land vacation property at high Noon on a Saturday, the scene was dramatically different. The beautiful couple with perfect bodies might have been mixed in the nearly wall-to-wall crowd of that pool, but most had normal people bodies, not the stuff of swimsuit issue covers. In that respect, I see the point of Pete Johnson, executive creative director for Boston-based Arnold Worldwide, Carnival’s advertising agency
“Marketing for vacations is usually filled with eye candy and inspirational content that doesn’t tell you much about what the experience is really like. While it can be beautiful to look at, it’s not helpful for anyone doing research,” said Johnson, pretty much negating all of the above if taken literally.
I beg to differ. One of the Carnival Corporation videos that was in the running for a spot to be aired during the Super Bowl absolutely nails the cruise experience, at least the experience we have grown to know and love. If your cruise history goes back further than last week, see if you agree:
But what about seasoned cruise travelers? Are we who have our family grown and sent off into the world on their own of no value anymore? Hardly. Stay tuned as we continue to examine cruise vacations and take you inside all they have to offer, for travelers of all ages. The ride has just begun.