Cruise Lines' Promotional Activities- Norwegian Cruise Lines
Norwegian Cruise Lines is a major Miami-based cruise line, and the company produces promotional activity on its own corporate website and Facebook page. Additionally, Norwegian regularly receives external media attention from major news outlets, as well as The New York Times annual travel show. While Norwegian has received negative social media coverage due to natural events, such as Hurricane Irma and the bomb cyclone, negative press does not appear to have impacted corporate growth. Norwegian has reported no negative effects on growth as a result of the current United States travel policy regarding Cuba.
Promotions and Media Coverage
Norwegian Cruise Lines advertises current promotions on both the corporate website and social media platforms. Current promotions from the Norwegian corporate website include a 50 percent discount on a second guest's cruise fare, the Bliss Big Apple Bonus (which is valued at a maximum of $600), reduced rates for extra guests, and promotional deals for members of Norwegian's Latitudes Rewards loyalty program. The Norwegian Cruise Lines Facebook is utilized to post beautiful pictures of exotic travels, in addition to providing information about Norwegian's fundraising efforts. For example, Norwegian used Facebook to post updates about the cruise line reaching its goal for the Hope Starts Here Hurricane Relief fund.
Norwegian Cruise Lines also benefits from significant external media coverage. USA Today covered Norwegian's Black Friday specials on November 19, 2017, which included discounts on an unlimited beverage package, free WiFi minutes, and credits for shore excursions. USA Today also highlighted features of the new Norwegian Bliss, a vessel scheduled to set sail in April, in an article from August 2017. Features covered included the Bliss's top deck go-cart race track and laser tag course. Another Norwegian Cruise Lines vessel, the Norwegian Escape, was featured in an episode of The Profit in July 2017. Finally, the cruise line's CEO and President, Andrew Stuart, served as a keynote speaker at the 2018 New York Times Travel Show, which was attended by 32,398 people. It is estimated that 22,130 of all attendees were consumers and potential cruise line patrons.
Several natural events have affected Norwegian Cruise Line in the past year. Perhaps the most dramatic natural event was Hurricane Irma, the hurricane that devastated the Caribbean and parts of Southern Florida at the beginning of September 2017. Several cruise ports in the U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Maarten, and Puerto Rico were closed in September, but this disruption in service was temporary, as those ports re-opened for business in November 2017.
Hurricane Irma also resulted in two cruise ships, the Norwegian Sky and Norwegian Escape, being forced to return to Miami early. The Norwegian Escape intended to pick up passengers from the Norwegian Sky who were unable to return home in time to escape the hurricane, but several passengers were left in Miami instead. Families of these stranded passengers reacted negatively on social media, making statements such as, "My family is on the street in Miami with no options." However, it was noted that Norwegian was making an effort to find hotel rooms for all travelers stranded in Miami.
The "bomb cyclone" of 2018 affected the Norwegian Breakaway, which sailed directly into the storm's path. The ship experienced flooding, and violent waves made many passengers sick. Several videos were posted on social media sites, showing the storm as viewed from the boat. Passengers reported being "traumatized" and that being on the Breakaway during this storm was "the worst moment of [their lives]." Meteorologists noted that the storm was forecasted in advance and could have been avoided, which did not paint a flattering picture of Norwegian's operations during the storm.
The Zika virus, which has been found in many tropical and subtropical locations, has also been a concern for the cruise line. Norwegian cruises to many ports where the virus is present, primarily in the Caribbean. In response, Norwegian is allowing passengers with travels planned to locales affected by Zika to change their trip without incurring a penalty, if they have not made their final payments.
Travel advisories and Norwegian Cruises
The United States government has issued travel advisories to American citizens for a number of destinations in Mexico, as a result of increasing violence in those locations. These advisories affect twelve active cruise ports. The violence is mostly drug-related and not directed at U.S. citizens; however, there remains a concern that cruise passengers on shore excursion in these locations could be affected. Norwegian continues to offer cruises that include these ports, including a 7-Day Mexican Riviera cruise. This cruise departs from Los Angeles and includes stops at Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan, and both of these ports are included in travel advisories. Representatives of Norwegian Cruise Line's parent company stated that Norwegian does not travel to locations listed as "defer non-essential travel."
Cuba is also subject to a travel advisory from the United States, as there have been attacks directed against American employees of the United States State Department. Additionally, attacks have been reported at hotels frequented by America citizens. However, Norwegian still offers four cruises that include Cuba as a destination, three of which involve docking in Cuba overnight. The cruise line states that its excursions already follow new regulations mandated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Furthermore, Norwegian reports that cruises that include Cuba are more successful than comparable cruises offered in the Bahamas and Caribbean. In an interview with CNBC's Mad Money, the CEO of Norwegian stated that "demand for the Cuban vacations [is] off the charts," and the cruise that includes Cuba and the Bahamas is "one of the most profitable itineraries."
While Norwegian Cruise Lines has been the focus of negative press in the past year as a result of the company's actions during Hurricane Irma and the bomb cyclone, Norwegian has nevertheless had a very successful year. Norwegian's stocks had appreciated 30 percent for 2017 (as of November 14, 2017), in part due to the success of the cruise lines Cuban itineraries.