With so many photos and videos of cruise ships already out there, it's hard to believe that more multimedia can help sell cruises. Word of mouth is still the most powerful marketing for cruise lines.
It’s hard to convince people to cruise.
Conveying the cruise experience using brochures or flyers is difficult, and potential cruisers don’t want to commit to a long cruise if they don’t understand the kind of environment onboard
Cruise lines and media companies have been experimenting for years with virtual tours and other multimedia collections to entice cruisers into better understanding the cruise experience before booking.
But is seeing believing for potential cruisers? It remains to be seen.
TripAdvisor-owned Cruise Critic is now offering virtual tours and crowd-sourced images from its users for the first time. They’ve partnered with Oyster, another TripAdvisor property, to produce video and photography that actually reflects the onboard experience.
This means the photos haven’t been touched up, and virtual tours that take place with actual cruisers onboard. The goal is for consumers researching cruises on mobile devices to be able to see what a cruise ship is actually like.
“Cruisers are using their mobile devices and social experiences like Facebook to get information from so many other places,” said Melissa Paloti, director of product development at Cruise Critic. “They’re definitely looking to have lots of visuals in order to have a comfort level with the experience.”
Paloti says that the increased availability of multimedia surrounding cruise ships can help ease travel discovery phase for cruise newbies.
“New-to-cruise is certainly a big audience to reach, there are a lot of barriers that keep them from making the purchase,” said Paloti. “Cruise is a big unknown; you’re on the ship for seven days, so you really want to know what you’re getting into before making that purchase.”
Most cruise lines have a copious amount of interactive images, videos, and other multimedia content aimed at attracting viewers to cruising.
Carnival Cruise Line already has a video ship tour available for the Carnival Vista, which is set to launch next year. It features a computer-generated model of the vessel and isn’t focused on what the cruise experience will ultimately resemble. It doesn’t offer virtual tours of all of its ships, opting instead for a combination of professional and crowdsourced photos.
Royal Caribbean International partnered with Google Street View to provide 360 degree tours before its Quantum of the Seas launch last year. The result is a web site with a touchy interface that shows passengers with blurred-out faces posing for the camera.
Norwegian Cruise Line offers an extensive variety of 360 degree images and videos of all its vessels.
On the luxury side, Azamara Club Cruises launched a virtual reality app for iOS and web browsers last month, offering full 3D video of its ships.
“We do not think there is a significant differential between luxury cruisers and traditional cruisers when it comes to engaging with this type of technology,” said Raul Parquet, a social media strategist for Azamara, told Skift. “What this does allow us to do is connect with new tech-savvy travelers who use this type of tech to engage and immerse themseleves in travel.”
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Photo credit: Cruisers relax on a Royal Caribbean vessel. Penny Higgins / Flickr