Tom Stieghorst
Tom Stieghorst

Three cruise companies made the Rio Olympic Games part of their 2016 strategy, so in the spirit of the competition, it seems only fitting to award them medals for their efforts.


Royal Caribbean International is using the Rio games to revive its "Come Seek" TV advertising, which debuted last fall. The choice associates Royal with the international flavor of the Olympics, plus links it with popular athletes such as Michael Phelps and Simone Biles.

Advertisers like Royal spent $1.2 billion on the Olympics, but so far television ratings are down 15.5% from the 2012 games in London, averaging 27.9 million viewers through the first nine nights.

Still, I thought one video was particularly effective. Titled "We Play Games Too," it shows an aquatic performer on one of Royal's Oasis-class ships doing a handstand on a diving platform before plunging into what seems like a pool the size of a postage stamp. The ad effectively showcases something that none of Royal's competitors can duplicate.


Silversea Cruises, aptly enough, wins the silver for chartering the Silver Cloud as a floating hotel for the U.S. men's and women's basketball teams. The charter earned Silversea a boatload of free publicity, including a front-page article in the New York Times.

Sports channels and outlets also picked up on an extended monologue by USA team coach Mike Krzyzewski about staying on the ship, although Chicago Bulls star Jimmy Butler could have shown a little more enthusiasm.

"I just do what I'm told," Butler said. "I'm told to sleep on a boat, so I sleep on a boat."


While Silversea hosted athletes, Norwegian Cruise Line chartered its Norwegian Getaway for use by sports bureaucrats, including members of the International Olympic Federation, the National Organizing Committees, the Rio Host Committee as well as corporate sponsors.

While not as productive on the publicity front, it gave high-ranking influencers from dozens of countries exposure to a cruise ship, and Norwegian in particular, that they might not otherwise have.

Norwegian gained another backhanded benefit. By chartering the Getaway, it removed the 4,000-passenger ship for 40 days from the Miami/Caribbean market, which "helped alleviate some of the pricing pressure" caused by having two big ships in the Miami market during the summer, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank del Rio said.

Norwegian couldn't have anticipated that effect when it started charter plans for the Rio games nine years ago, but good luck often plays a role in Olympic wins, as it did for Norwegian here.


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