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advertising opportunities with cruise lines

Cruise lines have been in the spotlight a lot recently…and not for the best reasons.

After several “mishaps” at sea over the past few years, it appears that the luxury cruise line industry is finally rebounding and putting that whole PR nightmare behind them.

According to the Royal Gazette, revenue for cruise lines will go up 12 percent in the next year. With new opportunities dotting the horizon, there are six major cruise companies gearing up for a big advertising push in Q4 and 2016.


Back in May, Carnival Corporation named M Booth as its agency of record (AOR) for PR.

M Booth has been tasked with reaching new-to-cruise consumers through national and regional consumer media relations, digital influencer outreach and special events.

Not only that, but Carnival is looking to become the first U.S. cruise line since the 1960s to offer trips to Cuba. If successful, this presents a great opportunity for differentiated advertising campaigns next summer.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]According to Kantar Media, Carnival spent $118.7 million on measured media in 2014  – a 23.1% increase from 2013.  Carnival’s spend tends to skew to H1, prior to “cruising season,” which occurs during the summer months. For example, reports that all of Carnival’s 2014 national TV spend in 2014 occurred prior to March 31, 2014 ($41.9 million).[/su_spoiler]

Royal Caribbean

Jim Berra, Carnival’s CMO since 2008, has jumped ship and will become CMO for Royal Caribbean at the end of the month. He joins shortly after RC moved creative to Mullen Lowe and media to Mediahub, the media buying segment of the IPG shop.

With new agencies in place, now’s the time to pitch for Q4 — the cruise industry’s second biggest revenue season — and Q1, when cruise lines push deals to bolster summer reservations (Wave Season).  Ahead of a big ad push, RC should be open most to platforms that resonate strongly with first-time cruisers, primarily millennials.

Other key targets should include multi-generational families traveling together, social groups taking cruises and wedding parties/honeymooners.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]Since January, 224 display ads have run on 3,548 publishers (<1 percent mobile), 82 percent of which have been placed programmatically, as opposed to client direct. Most desktop activity has been with travel, sports and large paper sites.[/su_spoiler]

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity Cruises, one of the six travel brands owned by Royal Caribbean, hasn’t had an AOR for years, but is reportedly conducting a “closed search” for a creative AOR.

After years of floating, CC has been amplifying marketing and awareness efforts since last year – similar to the trends of other RC brands and rival cruises. In fact, CC’s national TV spending this year has already eclipsed 2014 and 2013′s combined.

The surge makes sense – cruising is back on the rise after the recession and several mishaps at sea, and CC is expanding its fleet accordingly. Therefore, look to secure dollars around a marketing push for Q4, the cruise industry’s second biggest revenue season, and Q1, when cruise lines push deals to bolster summer reservations (Wave Season). Longer-term, expect CC’s ad budget to rise substantially over past years.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]CC spent $25.6 million on measured media last year, down 8 percent from $28.4 million in 2013, but up from $20.8 million in 2012. More than half of last year’s ad budget, about 59 percent, went to print ads, mainly magazine buys. Of the remainder, 21 percent went to digital (display and search), 8 percent to TV and 7 percent to out-of-home (OOH).

Furthermore, CC is running sponsored content with Forbes and New York magazine, according to[/su_spoiler]

Norwegian Cruise

After a review, Norwegian Cruise Lines has hired Omnicom’s BBDO, Atlanta as creative lead and sibling OMD, Midwest as media AOR. NCLH has spent about $50 million annually on measured media since 2012, with more than half going to display and search. With Wave Season over (Q1 – when cruise lines push deals to bolster summer reservations), sellers should focus on Q4 and Q1 2016.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings (NCLH), is pumping up marketing investments to take advantage of cruising’s revival after several mishaps at sea in 2012.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]Higher ad investments will support a return to TV ads for the Norwegian brand and will support three big launches.

In October, the 4,200 Norwegian Escape will debut as the largest ship in Norwegian Cruises’s fleet; in April 2016, the 684-passenger Oceania Sirena will join the fleet; and in July 2016, the new 750-guest luxury Seven Seas Explorer ship will set sail.[/su_spoiler]

Crystal Cruises

This month, Crystal Cruises named Finn Partners, NY as its PR AOR for North America. Finn will oversee the promotion of the Crystal Cruises cruise line as the company prepares for the largest expansion in its 25-year history.

Specifically, Finn Partners will handle media relations, strategic partnerships and alliances, marketing promotions, brand and image management and special events. Crystal is undergoing a huge expansion (yacht cruises will begin in December), so pitch integrated platforms that will tout Crystal’s brand extensions.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]Crystal’s expansion will include new ships and “luxurious explorations and adventures for ocean, expedition, river, yacht and air,” said CEO Edie Rodriguez. As a part of the expansion, Helen Panagos has been appointed VP of marketing and sales for the new Crystal Yacht Cruises.

In this role, Panagos will be responsible for all marketing and sales efforts in the company’s first-ever brand expansion. Additionally, she will play a “vital role” in the marketing direction of other special-branded projects.[/su_spoiler]

MSC Cruises

Founded in 1987, MSC reports that it’s now the world’s fourth largest cruise line and is targeting 3.2 million passengers annually by 2022.

MSC hired Riccardo Casalino as its new CMO, effective April 23. This comes as MSC gears up for a $5.3 billion expansion project that will double its fleet by 2022 and strengthens its focus on North America. MSC has been intensifying its U.S. earned media presence since last year, when Marketing SVP Bonnie Levengood was hired to lead North American consumer and trade marketing ahead of cruise ship MSC Divina‘s return to Miami for year-round service.

[su_spoiler title=”Additional Insight”]As you can expect, MSC’s spending doesn’t come anywhere close to that of Carnival, Royal Caribbean or Norwegian. MSC’s U.S. paid media efforts have consisted mainly of display ads with local Miami papers and travel media like,, and

However, when just looking at the top 100 publishers, MSC’s top display categories are technology, media and sports, according to Moat.[/su_spoiler]

Interested in pursuing one of these six opportunities? Get prospecting information for key decision-makers at each of these cruise line companies by signing up for a free trial of DailyVista.