Princess Cruises has 40% more capacity to sell in the UK market this summer, having replaced the 1,950-passenger Sea Princess with the 2,600-passenger Grand Princess.
Head of brand marketing Pieter van der Schee said: “We’re very excited about the growth.” He was speaking to an audience of about 150 crew at a presentation in Cobh, Ireland, put together to help them prepare for a season cruising with mainly Brits on board.
Some 85%-95% of passengers will be from the UK on this summer’s two-week cruises to the Mediterranean. All departures will also have children on board, but on a couple of cruises in July and August, there will be almost 450 kids under the age of 17 for the crew to cope with.
Round-trip cruises from the UK that cut out the need to fly are becoming increasing popular, accounting for 531,000 British cruise passengers in 2008. In 2004, 307,000 Britons took a cruise from the UK.
Van der Schee said Princess Cruises has seen a four-fold increase in bookings from the UK between 2001 and 2008. In 2002, Princess opened a dedicated UK office for the first time, in 2005 Sea Princess launched the cruiseline’s first season of cruises from Southampton.
He told the crew: “Replacing Sea Princess with Grand Princess is a big step for us that will mean another increase in passengers. It makes Princess the fourth biggest cruiseline in the UK in 2009. That is a great achievement.”
In research, 10% of Britons mentioned Princess when asked to name a cruiseline, while 27% of cruisers named Princess. When asked specifically if they had heard of Princess, 37% of all those questioned said they had, while 69% of cruisers knew the brand.
Van der Schee said: “A lot of the passengers this summer will have cruised before, but not necessarily with Princess. They will have heard good reports about the food and service and want to try it.
“In our research we tried to find out why people chose Princess instead of P&O Cruises or Royal Caribbean International as we all offer two-week cruises in the Mediterranean from Southampton. The answer was they chose Princess for the food, the flexible dining, the facilities and the service.”
Van der Schee explained that Princess uses several words to position the cruiseline, including choice and freedom, “can-do” service, glamour and fun. In the UK they also use “American-style luxury” to explain the cruise experience.
He said: “The aim is to position Princess as different from P&O Cruises, which is British. Princess is American, but that can be seen as negative in the UK. This term emphasises the “positive” aspects of being American – the friendliness and generosity in the service.
“In 2008, passengers said service was most important when choosing a cruise, as well as the food, friendliness and the accommodation.”
Grand Princess brings several features to the UK market that were not available on Sea Princess, including Sabatini’s, an Italian speciality restaurant, and an adults-only Sanctuary, which was added in a refit at the end of last year. There is a new sports court and flat-screen TVs in the suites.
The ship also has a Movies Under the Stars big screen by the pool and will be offering Princess’ Ultimate Ship’s Tour, which visits the funnel, engine control room and store rooms, among other off-limits areas.
- Travel Weekly and Princess Cruises are running a wedding competition with a twist. Find out more at travelweekly.co.uk/nauticalnuptials
Cruising from the UK in 2010
- P&O Cruises and Cunard will have new ships cruising from the UK next year. The 3,100-passenger Azura and the 2,058-passenger Queen Elizabeth, respectively.
- Celebrity Cruises will be offering cruises from Southampton for the UK market for the first time on new ship Celebrity Eclipse.
- Thomson Cruises is pulling its ex-UK cruise programme to concentrate on flycruises from Marmaris in Turkey, Crete and Palma.
- Norwegian Cruise Line is dropping its Mediterranean summer cruises from Southampton.
- Royal Caribbean International will be offering year-round cruises from Southampton on Independence of the Seas starting April 2010.
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