Righting the Ship


“We,” the cruise industry, know cruising is safer than any cruiser’s city. Atlanta the home of the CDC’s positivity rate is 9%, about 100x worse than on a cruise ship!

Now, how do “we” get reality to replace perception? Personally, I think that messaging says it all.

CLIA’s social media billboards are effective messaging, albeit in a narrow lane. Our message needs to be big, loud and frequent. Doing so will the lifeline thousands of industry stakeholders and relief to the pandemic-weary public with the medicinal benefits of cruising.

Social media billboards and press releases are the first steps for CLIA’s public messaging. The CDC and government officials are misinformed and knee jerking to the norovirus-based perception that as in Senator Blumenthal’s words;

“Time for CDC & cruise lines to protect consumers & again pause—docking their ships. Cruises are repeating recent history as Petri dishes of COVID infection.”

His messaging was better articulated than my memory’s version. Ken Muskat at Cruise World’s “Masterminds” last month when asked by Mary Pat Sullivan what he’d do with a commercial in the Super Bowl? Ken responded to the effect of….Tout safety, beauty, and value of cruising with a CTA, the first x thousands to respond will receive a free cruise.

Brilliant, tens of thousands of interested consumer leads to be distributed among industry stakeholders while dispelling the perception of an unsafe environment at the same time.

The common refrain heard from virtually every CMO in the industry is getting “new to cruise” passengers. I’ve argued in the past that CLIA would serve the industry well with a consumer campaign addressing cruise apprehension. Now more than ever, that’s the industry’s lifeboat. Done properly, it will drive bookings, drop the CDC statement, and fill cabins of the new builds for years to come.

Most of us have idyllic branding TV campaigns by Celebrity, Royal, Norwegian, MSC, Virgin, and Viking; perhaps there are others, too. The footage is fantastic and can easily be adapted to message the safety, value, and medicinal effect of cruising. “No ports of call needed! Cruise to nowhere to escape the pandemic!” is an advantage cruising can leverage, too.

Medical experts and people of trust can be part of the execution.

Call to action; learn the safety specifics at the CLIA (perhaps branded something like “safety on the seas”) site and the sites of the industry’s primary stakeholders. In addition to cruise lines, consortiums, American Express, insurance, etc. There’s a way to do this, so each investor gets their fair share of exposure. I also like Ken Muskat’s idea to drive leads here, too.

The spots will message safety while visually showing the idyllic beauty of cruise. I’d suggest on the CLIA site a roundtable of industry CEOs, ship captains, and medical experts for those who want to learn more. It will also educate the CDC, Senator Blumenthal, and others who impact our livelihoods and need to know reality from perception.

We’ve many great minds in the industry, putting them together will navigate this pandemic ship into calm waters. Let’s take the wheel and move full steam ahead.

Richard Shane is CEO of luxury lifestyle media and marketing company The World’s Greatest Vacations which he founded in 1993 as Treasure Chest. Ogilvy and Mather; and McCann Erickson advertising in NYC is where his career began.