Disney Cruise Line President Karl Holz was in New York recently to reveal the features on the upcoming, 4,000-passenger Disney Dream. Cruise editor Johanna Jainchill spoke with Holz about the new ship, the line's new itinerary to Alaska in 2011 and its joint promotion with sister brand Adventures by Disney.
Q: Is this partnership with Adventures by Disney meant to drive people to the cruise line, as well?
A: We put it out there to drive people to different kinds of vacation experiences. When you take a look at what we do, our guests can vacation in Anaheim [Calif.], Tokyo, Paris, Walt Disney World, and if I go back to 1998, with the debut of Disney Cruise Line, we introduced a whole new way of vacationing.
So when I think about Adventures by Disney, the guided tour business that we created exclusively for families, it's a way of introducing people to the world in a Disney fashion: classic storytelling, family conveniences and really taking them around the globe. To me, it's just smart business sense to take advantage of the relationships we have between the various components of our vacation portfolio.
Q: Is that kind of strategy possible with the parks as well or just within the division you oversee: Adventures by Disney, Disney Cruise Line and Hawaii?
A: As a company, we always look to synergize our various assets. We look to see that the assets that are in our portfolio of vacation and entertainment experiences work to each other's benefit. So leveraging the cruise line on Adventures by Disney just makes business sense.
Q: You could give away 2,500 cruises. Isn't that a lot of money?
A: To me, it's not a money issue. In every business you have peaks and valleys, and you take advantage of some of those opportunities. ... Disney Cruise Line is clearly known as a brand. This promotion is intended to introduce people to the family tour market. That's the intent of what we're doing.
Q: With so much cruise capacity coming on, does it also make sense to introduce more people to the cruise line, as well?
A: There is capacity, but we are taking full advantage of that capacity.
Q: Are you concerned about filling such huge ships in a down economy?
A: We're pleased with where we are. We're going to the Baltic and the Mediterranean early next year. We are pleased with where those bookings are. We announced Alaska on Sept. 11, and we couldn't be more pleased with the response to that. With the Disney Dream's three-, four- and five-day itineraries for 2011, we're confident that the plans we're putting into place will work.
You have to remember, when it comes to Disney Cruise Line, we created the family cruise business. The addition of the Disney Dream represents an expansion of that family cruise business. Our ships are designed from stem to stern for families.
Q: The Alaska and Mexican Riviera cruise markets have been challenged. Other lines are leaving those markets when Disney is going in. Do you believe you will be successful there?
A: We absolutely do. One of the things we do is we listen to our guests. I don't go cruising as much as I'd like to, but when I do, I sit down with our guests.
When our guests talk about the places they want to go, what do you think the No. 1 place is? It's Alaska. It's the destination they have told us they really want to visit. We also knew they wanted to go to the Baltic, and that's why we're going there next summer.