Cruise line pays would-be passengers to watch TV

Norwegian Cruise Line’s episode of the hit reality series Undercover Boss was first broadcast last January. But it’s summertime now and that brings reruns. The Undercover Boss episode featuring Norwegian’s CEO Kevin Sheehan replays July 17. In an interesting twist on summer TV viewing options, Norwegian Cruise Line pays an on-board cash bonus to anyone who books a cruise between July 16 and 18.

“While I may not have performed the tasks as well as our amazing crew during the experience, we’ve received a tremendous amount of support from guests and travel partners as a result of our Undercover Boss episode” said Sheehan.

The show, which first aired on January 2, 2011, was seen by more than 14 million people in the US and has also aired in Canada, Australia and Norway. Norwegian Cruise Line’s episode of Undercover Boss was also the most-recalled brand appearance in a prime-time broadcast show in January.Viewers will have the chance to relive everything from the awkward moment when Sheehan’s cover is blown by a waitress in a restaurant on Norwegian Epic to leading a crowd of 1,000 guests in a line dance. Watch as Sheehan attempts to work alongside a deck repairman (and fellow New Yorker) who was frankly critical of his performance. One of the best parts of the episode comes when Sheehan agrees with a crew member that what looked to be a great new feature on Norwegian Epic in the boardroom played out to be a dismal failure in real life. That segment alone is worth the watch.

As an exclusive offer for the rebroadcast of the episode, guests who book a Norwegian cruise vacation between July 16 and July 18, 2011 will get up to $200 to spend on board and a reduced deposit.

“I think the viewers were in awe of our amazing ships and phenomenal hard working crew and truly felt a connection with us” Sheehan added.

CBS’s pseudo-reality series, Undercover Boss, features a high-ranking executive posing as an entry-level worker in the company they manage. Camera crews, lights and associated production stuff is passed off as part of a “documentary” about what it’s like to be the new guy at work. Previous companies featured include Frontier Airlines, Johnny Rockets, Subway Restaurants and Direct-TV.

Undercover Boss can be seen July 17, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CT) on the CBS Television Network.

Flickr photo by Stephen & Katherine

Old cruise ships get new features

When a new cruise ship comes out, it has all the latest features and what cruise ship designers hope will provide the best, most relevant experience for today’s cruise passenger. Later, after those new features turn out to be of an enduring nature, cruise lines often add them to older ships. Sometimes this process adds value to older ships that would otherwise be lacking in features by comparison. Other times when old cruise ships get new features it only makes a good ship better.
Royal Caribbean’s (@RoyalCaribbean) Freedom of the Seas, one of the most popular ships in the fleet, just completed a series of upgrades at the Grand Bahama Shipyard. This is a ship that was already popular and selling well so new features, many made popular on the newest Oasis-class ships, will be a welcome addition to an already successful operation. Here is what has been added:
  • Royal Babies and Tots Nursery
  • Large 18.5-foot video screen overlooking family pool area
  • LCD wayfinder system
  • Cupcake Cupboard restaurant
  • Vintages lounge will be redone
  • DreamWorks Experience
  • 3D movie screen
  • Imaginocean! puppet show
  • Outdoor LED video walls

It’s not like Royal Caribbean got a special deal on giant TV screens so they needed someplace to put them either. Fueled by passenger response, the line is giving them what they want. Called the Royal Advantage program, the line is investing $70 million to keep older ships current.

“The outdoor video screen installed aboard Liberty of the Seas in January has already been so well received that we have decided to deploy it aboard all the ships scheduled to undergo the Royal Advantage revitalization in 2011.” said Royal Caribbean vice president of hotel operations Lisa Bauer said Royal Caribbean blog. (@theRCLblog)

Sometimes a bit of tweaking is done after that new ship launches but cruise lines know their passengers well and most often they get it right. Still, there are always some people who just don’t like change.

Princess Cruises
(@PrincessCruises) found that out when they invented Movies Under The Stars several years ago when Caribbean Princess debuted. The new feature was wildly popular with most guests but some did not care for the new feature. When the line (logically) announced it would be added to other ships in the fleet, tempers flared and cruise message boards were afire with heated debates.

Occasionally, cruise lines do get it wrong though and have to figure out what to do with/about features that don’t pan out to be everything they dreamed or are what they dreamed but just did not catch on.

In their ongoing efforts to be innovative, Norwegian Cruise Line (@NCLFreestyle) tried adding a mock-ice skating feature to new Norwegian Epic. When CEO Kevin Sheehan looked at shipboard operations from a different angle on the CBS television program Undercover Boss it was clear: this is not a good idea. That idea did not make it and was scrapped but you have to give them credit for trying something different. Still, popular features like Cirque Dreams and Dinner (the best at-sea entertainment I have ever seen), Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert and more get rave reviews on Norwegian Epic. The first-of-their-kind solo studios are the answer to solo traveler’s prayers.

Sometimes cruise lines take spaces already on existing ships that may under-utilized and do something different as multi-use spaces become more popular on new ships.

Carnival Cruise Lines (@CarnivalCruise) recently added Punchliner Comedy Clubs to every ship in the fleet after testing revealed them to be wildly popular with guests. Located in the ship’s aft lounge, each Punchliner Comedy Club offers guests loads of laughs with five 35-minute shows on multiple nights during each voyage, with at least two comedians performing each night. The two early-evening shows offer fun for the whole family while the later performances will feature adult-oriented comedy.

Cruise passengers are finding out that older ships can be some of the very best values too. With new ships demanding the premium “I wanna be on the newest ship” price, older ships which may indeed have some of the newest features, are almost always less expensive.

Flickr photo by Monica R

Cruise prices on the rise along with popularity

Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line announced this week plans to increase cruise fares by 10% starting April 1st. Not because middle-east unrest might spike oil prices. Not because of cost overruns or shrinking bottom lines. Travelers are buying again.

“We’ve seen exceptional demand spurred by our Wave Season promotion, particularly for the popular summer destinations,” said Norwegian Cruise Line CEO and former Undercover Boss Kevin Sheehan.

Just to make sure there are plenty of great offers to take advantage of before the rise in prices, the line will also extend their current “Upgrades for All” promotion though the end of March.That deal gets up to a four-category upgrade on select sailings and on-board discount coupon books worth up to $400 off on-board products and services

“We wanted to give consumers and travel agents the opportunity to take advantage of these offers before the price increase.” added Sheehan.

Norwegian Cruise Line has 11 Freestyle Cruising ships and plans to build two new 4,000-passenger vessels for delivery in spring 2013 and 2014. The line’s latest ship, Norwegian Epic, debuted last Summer.

Flickr photo by cmerow

Cheap Cruise Watch- Norwegian Upgrades (almost) everybody

It’s what the cruise industry calls “wave season”, the time of the year when people stop dreaming of a White Christmas and instead have nightmares about getting stuck in snow and ice. Thoughts turn to warmer weather and cruise vacations come to mind. We have been talking a lot about how to get a good deal lately. Today we have one for you.

Cheap prices are good. Cheap prices and you get more for your money are better.

Norwegian Cruise Line has a “Free Upgrades For All” promotion that applies to the new Norwegian Epic going on now through January 16, 2011 where we can book and get up to a 4 category upgrade at no additional charge. That’s nothing really all that exciting but with this promotion, you can book an ocean-view cabin (with a window) and get a balcony cabin at no additional charge. Book a balcony and get a mini-suite too. That’s different and unique to Norwegian.

They’re also throwing in a coupon book “worth over $400” but don’t get too excited about that part. Many of the coupons you probably won’t use but they do add up and some you will. The big attraction here is booking an ocean-view and getting a balcony or booking a balcony and getting a mini-suite on their newest ship. That’s the kind of value we want you to get. It’s available on all 2011 sailings and its pretty easy to do.

Like most cruise deals this can be a little tricky to book so pay attention if you visit the NCL website. For Balcony upgrades, you’ll see a Balcony Stateroom with the same price as an Ocean-view Stateroom. For sailings with Mini-Suite Upgrades, you’ll see a Mini-Suite listed at the same price as a Balcony. A few restrictions apply and it is always a good idea to read the fine print.

Get with your travel expert to be sure you get it right.

Flickr photo by Cruise News Weekly

Janet Jackson as entertainment on a cruise ship?


On new Norwegian Epic, the popular Legends in Concert tribute show has changed some of the acts.

New to the ship will be Janet Jackson, Neil Diamond and Aretha Franklin impersonators doing six 45-minute shows over during a seven-day cruise.

Las Vegas’ famed standard of live tribute shows has rounded up the largest collection of live tribute artists and celebrity look-alikes in the world for over 25 years. At Sea, the performers are rotated every four months on Norwegian Epic, the latest ship from Norwegian Cruise Lines.

Among other entertainment options on a Norwegian Epic cruise including a Cirque Dreams and Dinner dining experience and a performance by The Blue Man Group, Legends in Concert has proved to be a popular option.

“The Legends in Concert show in the Epic Theater and Legends Unplugged (stars say naughty things) in the Manhattan Room are a favorite of our guests,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO and recent star of TV reality show Undercover Boss who recently impersonated crew members on the ship.

Replacing Britney Spears, Rod Stewart and Michael Jackson, the new performers will also do the Legends Unplugged show on three other nights in the ship’s supper club.

Replacing Kevin Sheehan on Undercover Boss will be Ronald Croatti, President and CEO of UniFirst, one of the nation’s largest producers of work-wear and uniforms.

Flickr photo by chvad_sb