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About mikegw2

  • Rank
    Cool Cruiser

About Me

  • Location
    Denver, CO
  • Interests
    Travel, scuba, hiking
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL, Princess, Celebrity
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call

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  1. Thank you for the clarification and my apologies for coming off defensively. The article from CLIA didn’t get into methodology, but I’m sure the flaws are many. However flawed, I believe the results represent the kind of data on macro trends driving some cruise company decisions and it answers the question “what the heck was NCL thinking when they built Encore…” If Encore comes out of its first drydock and the racetrack is gone, the laser tag is gone, VIBE is cut back and a Spice H20 pops up then we’ll know the family-oriented market has been way-overstated.
  2. The fact that there is a new cruise line that caters strictly to adults may have nothing to do with net growth in the market segment. That new company may simply see an opportunity to pull customers away from other cruise lines who aren’t happy with changes or who aren’t loyal to one cruise line. If the company is new, it’s not likely that they have the financial resources to be all things to all people—they just need pick one segment and run with it. Also, the addition of new cruisers to the market may have nothing to do with net growth in various segments. For example, lets go back 10 years and say the cruise market was made up of baby boomers like myself, older GenX’rs who’s kids were grown, a few younger GenX families with kids under 18, and young single people. The total market was 100 people. Ten years goes by and all the baby boomers have died, the younger GenXr’s kids are grown so they start cruising without kids, several of the cruisers stop cruising and start taking other types of vacations, and the young single party crowd ages out. Almost every person in the market could be new from 10 years ago, but the total group size is still 100 people – so you have zero growth. Now let’s say it 10 years later and the total cruise market has grown to 150 people and the only difference is that the number of people in the group with kids under age 18 has increased from 6 people to 56 people. 100% of the growth has come from people with kids under 18. The other 100 people may be new to cruising, but they simply replaced someone else in a group that has zero net growth. This seems to be what the cruise industry is saying about their business.
  3. Well, the pricing structure certainly was different then--partially offset by lower cabin costs, I suppose. Sodas @ #2.50 each, wine @ $7 to $9 per glass and cocktails @ $10 to $12, it adds up fast. Five or 6 meals in specialty restaurants for $400 to $500 wasn't too bad considering appetizers, salad, entrée and desert and tips for two people--about the same as eating out at home. I do think NCL's new pricing approach makes it easier for people to stay on budget...
  4. I do a lot of customer and market research in my job and I agree with you that a lot of what gets published is flawed or total garbage. I used only data from investment analysts and cruise industry trade groups, and none of this is from NCL. It really applies to all companies in the cruise industry. I cruise NCL now, but I've also cruised Carnival, Princess and Celebrity in the past and liked a lot about their product. I also own stock in RCL, Carnival and NCL so I don't really don't have any bias as long as the whole industry does well. Bias would also suggest I have a bent or hidden agenda towards my preference and that's clearly not the case. I'm 64 years old and don't use any of the family-oriented features they are putting on cruise ships, so why would I argue against my own position with false or biased data?
  5. I wish. Just two really bad sleepless nights...
  6. I haven't sailed the Escape, so I can't compare the two ships. My post didn't have anything to do with "nickel and diming", but I'll address that anyway. When I first started cruising NCL they had no drink package, no dining plans, no free internet, no shore excursion credits, no free airfare and we had pay to use the thermal suite. For a seven day cruise, my wife and I would spend $800 to $1000 on soda and alcohol, $400 to $500 in the specialty restaurants, $300 - $400 on thermal suite passes, and on occasion full price shore excursions through NCL. Now, even paying the gratuities on the drink package and dining plan, we save about $1,500 from what we used to spend on a 7 day cruise. Our last cruise we were "nickeled and dimed" for $37 because my wife likes to drink sidecars that weren't in the basic drink package and she wanted something in one of the restaurants that was a $4 upcharge. I'll take the $1,500 savings vs the $37 upcharges anytime. It's not always a direct comparison, but I am spending about $900 less on a seven day cruise than I was 10 years ago.
  7. I agree with your point about deck space in warm weather cruises and that relates to the part of my post about year-around space utilization problems. The Caribbean cruise season is only 5 months long, so what do you do with a ship the other 7 months if it's been designed for warm weather cruising. Cruise lines have tried to design ships for specific markets (Joy, Bliss) but that rarely works out well. I don't think people should assume anything when they book a cruise--if they are complacent and don't do any homework then there is a good chance they'll be disappointed. The good news is that there are still a lot of great ships with tons of outdoor space, so everyone can still get want they want most. Those of us loyal to NCL probably have expectations that each ship they build will be suited to us. However, 85% of cruise passengers aren't loyal to a specific cruise line - they buy based on the ship, the itinerary and budget first and the particular cruise line may be irrelevant for them.
  8. The point isn't that NCL is catering to the top market versus bottom. The point is that there has been a huge shift to attract families where 100% of the market growth has been for the last 10 years. Cruising is no longer an adult only activity and new ships are reflecting that in their design--and a lot of people here on cruise critic apparently think this is the end of the world. My wife and I are in our mid-60's so the family-oriented stuff doesn't appeal to us, but we still prefer the larger ships because of the variety of restaurants, bars, entertainment, thermal suites, etc. We just ignore the chaos around the water slides, racetracks, and other venues and focus on what we want to do...
  9. I embark the Encore on February 2, so I’ve been reading the posts about the ship design with some interest. We have all known (or should have known if we can read and look at diagrams) how the Encore was designed—so passengers have little reason to be surprised or indignant. To my point, there are some pretty dramatic market realities driving new ship design and it has nothing to do with the people who think they should be the center of NCL’s ship-design universe. First, NCL would have been stupid to build Encore with the same features that they offer on other ships sailing the same waters at the same time. Anyone who understands marketing strategy knows that you drive growth through differentiation and appeal to a wide range of market segments. No company grows by being the same or staying the same. And, NCL is not going to grow by catering to small and shrinking group of cruisers that must have pool and deck spaces as a primary ship feature. Please read market research and commentary by industry analysts, cruise industry trade groups and companies like JD Power that measure consumer satisfaction. The outdoor cruise crowd is a small and declining group while the family segment has driven industry growth for the past 10 years. Passenger traffic has grown 7% per year average, with 100% of the growth coming from families headed by millennials and GenX’rs. The outdoor pool-side & open deck passenger segment has dropped from 11% of cruisers down to 6% over that same 10 year period. When 11,000+ cruise purchasers were asked in a 2018 survey what was important or very important in selecting a cruise ship and destination, here’s what they said (the survey excluded passengers on high-end luxury lines): 42% - onboard family activities (racetrack, water slides, laser tag, VR & arcades, kid’s programs, etc.) 19% - family friendly ports, excursions & on-shore activities 16% - adult & special interest excursions and activities 11% - onboard adult entertainment & activities (shows, parties, spa, casino, etc.) 10% - indoor public spaces (bars, thermal suite, atrium, observation lounge, Haven) 6% - outdoor public spaces (pool deck, sun decks, VIBE, Spice H20, etc.). Only 6% of cruise purchasers indicated outdoor public spaces were important and they were equally divided – 3% who preferred quiet spaces and 3% who preferred more lively spaces (pool area, Spice H20). My guess is that the 3% who want quiet spaces are willing to pay to get away from the 3% pool party crowd, so VIBE was born… Why would NCL continue to build ships with features that only 6% of passengers want most and ignore what 42% of passengers want most? I’m speculating here, but I believe that space utilization may be an increasing consideration for cruise lines. I read in one of the CLIA reports that the global industry average across all fleets is 131 days per year/per ship where open decks and pools are usable and 234 days per year where the pool and top decks can’t really be used (rain, snow, too windy, too cold, rough waters, etc.). Since the pool area & open decks can only be used 35% of the time, depending on how a ship is deployed these are very likely money losers in terms of revenue per square foot. I’ve been on a seven day Caribbean cruise and a seven day Bermuda cruise where the pool was empty and the chairs stacked for the entire length of the cruise—not a single outdoor day out of 14 days and people were crammed into the few indoor spaces available. Lastly, only 4.5% of US adults has ever set foot on a cruise ship (11 million adults), so NCL’s big job is to attract the 258 million adults in the USA who have never cruised (and more than that from other countries). NCL has four Jewel class ships with tons of pool deck and upper deck space, they have a couple year-around party ships, and they have four BA & BA+ ships with large pool decks, Spice H20 and free upper deck space – are they really going to attract any of those 258 million potential new cruisers by building more of the same? Hardly…. The entire global cruise industry only earns 2% of the world’s leisure/vacation travel expenditures, so while many of us here on CC might really like cruising the cruise industry is really small potatoes. NCLH and other cruise lines have a lot of work to do to compete with other travel options, and that’s likely to remain their focus. They will build what most people want to buy…
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