Big consumer brands are everywhere these days, even on cruise ships. A quick look across a number of major cruise lines shows partnerships with leading television personalities, popular children’s brands, toy manufacturers, major food and wine companies and more. These types of alliances have increased substantially over the past few years. Some cruise lines, such as Carnival, have even created their own brands as well.
“Consumers tend to be attracted by brands and celebrities they are familiar with and think highly of,” says Jim Berra, Chief Marketing Officer for Carnival Cruise Lines. This helps explain why brand affiliations have grown at major cruise lines. It’s good for marketing and improves the overall vacation experience as well. “For a cruise line to partner with a major brand or celebrity helps entice consumers to take a closer look at cruising as a vacation option,” Berra says.
Take Carnival’s partnership with Guy Fieri, a leading restaurateur and Food Network star. Fieri and Carnival worked together to launch Guy’s Burger Joint, a casual poolside eatery that has been a huge hit on Carnival ships since 2011. “Guy and Carnival are a natural fit,” according to Jim Berra. “Both brands are spirited, fun-loving, and gregarious – plus, who doesn’t love a great hamburger?” Carnival guests obviously agree. Guy’s Burger Joint cooks up more than 1,200 free handmade burgers per ship each day, all served to guests free of charge.
In addition to its partnership with Guy Fieri, Carnival has partnered with a number of other major brands to appeal to a broad range of travel consumers. These include comedian George Lopez, renowned DJ IRIE, video game manufacturer EA SPORTS, and Hasbro – the board game company favored by families for decades. Families are an important market for Carnival. They carry more than 700,000 kids on their ships each year, significantly more than any other cruise line. Carnival's newest partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises has led to a new branded experience called Seuss at Sea. “Everyone remembers reading Dr. Seuss books as a child and it is really our privilege to incorporate this incredible brand into our ships to help families create wonderful vacation memories on board,” says Berra.
Through this process and their own research, Carnival has recognized how much most consumers enjoy branded experiences. As a result, they’ve created their own brands guests have come to love and look forward to on Carnival ships. These include Carnival brands such as the ever-popular RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, RedFrog Rum Bar, BlueIguana Tequila Bar, Bonsai Sushi, and many more. Carnival even has its own brand of private label beer, ThirstyFrog Red.
While Carnival’s newest ships include a wide variety of these branded venues, they are also being added to existing ships as part of the cruise line’s Fun Ship 2.0 makeovers. One of the most recent of these is the Carnival Freedom’s $70 million dollar refurbishment. This ship now contains more than twenty branded venues and experiences for guests to enjoy.
The Carnival Freedom is currently the only ship to have Bookville, a Dr. Seuss themed space where kids and parents can read and play in together. Bookville has received rave reviews from kids and adults alike. Many mention how much they enjoy the wide variety of Dr. Seuss books available and the space's unique design, a feeling echoed by Lania Rittenhouse, Carnival’s VP of Product Development. “I love how colorful and inviting the Dr. Seuss Bookville space is to hang out in and read so many really fun and engaging books from Dr. Seuss,” says Rittenhouse. Bookville will also be available on the new Carnival Vista when it sets sail in 2016.
Bookville is part of Carnival’s Seuss at Sea, a series of branded family dining and entertainment experiences that’s expected to be available fleetwide by 2015. “Thus far, we’ve rolled out Seuss at Sea on four ships and the reaction has been beyond incredible,” says Carnival’s Jim Berra. Another favorite part of this program is Breakfast with the Cat in the Hat and Friends, a cool Seuss-themed breakfast featuring meet and greet character interactions, photo opportunities, and colorful cooked to order entrees such as green eggs and ham, made famous by Dr. Seuss. At $5 per person, this character breakfast is one of the best value branded vacation experiences available – both on land and at sea. It’s a great way for parents and children to make wonderful vacation memories and interact with a beloved childhood brand on their family cruise.