Skift Take

We're encouraged by CEO Donald's moves over the last six months to improve things at Carnival, and we're also far enough removed from the "poop cruise" so that this isn't an instantly horrible idea.

Carnival Corp., trying to dispel consumer concerns about the cruise industry, is inviting the public to design its next marketing campaign, including people who’ve never set foot on a ocean liner.

Among the issues Carnival hopes to address: “I don’t want to be on a buffet line with 3,000 people. I don’t want to be confined. I don’t want to get seasick. It’s only for old people,” Arnold Donald, chief executive officer of the world’s largest cruise company, said today on a call with reporters.

While almost 22 million people will take a cruise this year, it’s industry mishaps that consumers hear most about in the media. Those include outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness, mechanical breakdowns and in rare instances shipwrecks. Carnival’s Crown Princess pulled into Los Angeles yesterday after a month-long trip in which 172 people became ill with norovirus, a flu-like ailment.

Starting Nov. 24, the Miami-based company will ask consumers to help design the campaign through social media and other Internet outlets, before moving to national TV in the first quarter of next year, Donald said. People who participate will enter contests that include free cruises. One participant will win a yearly cruise for life.

“We’re literally going to walk them all the way through, from concept to pitch to final execution, and they’ll get to participate in that and vote,” Donald said. “In the process we’ll help educate people about what cruising really is.”

For the first time, the company will jointly promote all nine of the company’s brands, such as Holland America and Princess, Donald said. It will include an online tool where consumers can respond to questions that help find a cruise option that fits their personalities.

Donald declined to say how much the company will spend. Carnival allocates more than $500 million to advertising and promotions annually, he said.

Carnival was little changed at $41.51 at the close in New York. The shares have risen 3.3 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at

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Tags: carnival, holland america line, princess cruises, ugc

Photo Credit: The embattled Carnival Triumph. Carnival Cruise Lines

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