With high inflation and the threat of a recession, what's the best way to market and sell cruises?
The question was posed to Carnival Corp. executives on the Presidents Panel at Travel Weekly's CruiseWorld on Wednesday, and Princess Cruises president John Padgett had a quick answer.
"It's all about value," Padgett said. "Cruise is a superior value proposition. It doesn't really matter what level of cruise or what brand or what destination. When you match the cruise up against its land-based comparable, there's no question what the value play is."
Padgett followed up by saying that "a majority" of Princess customers purchase the line's Plus and Premier bundles because they "maximize value."
The Plus package costs an extra $50 per day and includes WiFi for one device per guest, the Plus Beverage Package (sodas, specialty coffees and teas and alcoholic drinks that sell for $12 each) and pre-paid tips
The Premier package costs an extra $75 and includes WiFi for up to four devices per guest, two specialty dining meals per guest, a photo package, the Premier Beverage package (everything in the Plus package plus drinks that sell for $18 with a premium selection of spirits, cocktails and wine by the glass) and the chance to win prizes.
Seabourn president Josh Leibowitz also addressed value, calling cruises "a fabulous vacation at any part of the market."
"The value is remarkable, and your earning potential is extremely high," Leibowitz said to travel advisors in the audience. "It's truly a wonderful vacation option, and it's underpenetrated compared to hotels."
Are cruise companies doing well or not?
After the question about economic headwinds, Holland America Line president Gus Antorcha was asked about mixed news about how well the cruise industry is doing.
For example, there have been reports about lower-than-expected cruise stock prices along with stories about cruise lines breaking booking records.
Carnival says it just broke a record for weekly bookings
Royal Caribbean enjoys an 'Iconic' surge in bookings
Antorcha answered by talking about "itineraries and markets that we're quite pleased with."
He said cruises that include Iceland, Finland and Scotland are doing well. He added that demand for Alaska is strong and that there's robust demand for Holland America Line's long cruises.
Antorcha specifically mentioned the line's 35-day Voyage of the Vikings cruise, a Canada and New England itinerary extended to include Greenland, Iceland, Ireland and Norway.
"We're very pleased with our long itineraries," Antorcha said. "There's a lot of happy guests onboard, and I think they're sharing the news."