We first got hints of Virgin Cruises launching this past December when some renderings were “leaked” out. Fast forward a few months and a press conference scheduled by billionaire Sir Richard Branson, this hint could soon become a reality.
Here are a few things that Virgin Cruises will need if they want to be successful.
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Virgin has always been on the cutting edge of everything and known for being flashy, so technology on a new cruise ship shouldn’t be a problem. Perhaps free unlimited wifi, automated check-ins and smart devices to use all around the ship would be a good start.
Royal Caribbean has the RFID (radio-frequency identification) wristbands and robotic bartenders, so they will have to take technology to a higher level to achieve the most coveted “Wow Factor”.
2. All-Inclusive Dining
In the sea of specialty restaurants, it would be nice to see a cruise line with all-inclusive dining. A cruise line that will give you fresh squeezed orange juice without paying $4 a glass. A cruise line that includes every restaurant for one price, the price of the cruise.
3. Work Well With Travel Agents
Being the new kid on the block is not always easy. The new line would have to work well with travel agents to create buy-in. That would include offering fair commissions to travel agents, cruises to showcase what the line has to offer, and educating travel agents on the coolness of Virgin Cruises.
4. Cater To The Millennial
Cruises are slowly breaking the mold but still carry this misconception that cruise lines are only for older people. That’s not true, but is still public opinion.
Virgin Cruises will have to do what Royal Caribbean, Carnival, and Norwegian have done in the past – making it cool to cruise.
5. Great Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are what really retain cruise passengers. Once a cruise line loyalty program has you hooked, you’re hooked. Virgin Cruises will have to offer a loyalty program that out-does the other cruise lines.
It’s the simple things that make cruisers loyal. Some Princess passengers won’t leave Princess Cruises because they get free internet and mini-bar every sailing. The same can be said with Carnival’s free laundry for platinum and diamond guests.
Entering the cruise industry with a new cruise line is a bold move, especially in the North American market. For example, look at cruise lines like MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises, they’re the new kids on the block and having trouble filling their ships.
Last year a 10-night Caribbean cruise on Costa was going for as little as $299.
There hasn’t been a new cruise line launched since Disney Cruise Line in 1996 (excluding Carnival’s fathom), so it will be interesting to see what June’s announcement will reveal.
As we say in radio, stay tuned….