Royal Caribbean International and sister premium line Celebrity Cruises are to re-launch their 'wave' peak season marketing campaigns, the first brand activity since the Costa Concordia tragedy.
The two operators had suspended marketing during what is a crucial sales period for cruise as a mark of respect for those who were killed when the Costa ship sank off the coast of Italy on January 13.
Now the operators believe the time is right to resume advertising activity and starting tomorrow will go out to market with an improved offer based around thousands of free flights for summer cruises.
The move comes after travel agents told Travel Weekly that they thought the industry should feel no shame in kick-starting the market after what appears to have been a freak, one-off incident.
Royal Caribbean resumed some co-operative marketing activity at the weekend but the resumption of its core campaign will see the return of a more heavy-weight campaign on television, radio and in print.
Jo Rzymowska, UK general manager of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said: “It’s up to us to work with our trade partners and get the message to the consumers that this was an awful, very rare but terrible accident and we as an industry are doing everything we can to make sure it never happens again.
“We needed to be sensitive about what happened and the immediate decision to stop all activity was not a difficult one. It was crystal clear to us in the light of the tragedy that was the right thing to do.
“From then on we have monitored things day by day by getting sentiment from the market, and a lot of that we did by talking to our trade partners. We feel that February 1 is the right time to go out with our own activity.”
The resumed campaign will last throughout February and offer 10,000 free flights for summer 2012 sailing across Royal Caribbean’s European programme of cruise itineraries.
Rzymowska said flights were available for departures from a wide range of UK regional airports and that once they were gone they were gone. For ex-UK Southampton sailings free coach transfers and carparking are being offered.
The Celebrity campaign is similar with a smaller number of free flights for European cruises and a slightly more restricted number of regional airports. This is in addition to Celebrity’s reduced air campaign offering flights from as little as £49.
The lead-in price for sailings on Celebrity Eclipse out of Southampton has also been reduced from £1,299 to £999.
In addition agents will be in with a chance of winning a small prize, such as a branded t-shirt or mug, for each booking they make; in addition the line will be giving away free European flights and at the end of the month one agent will win a cruise for two people.