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Carnival Corp. is eager to communicate directly with consumers, and continues to invest in new ways to do so. It will be interesting to see if potential cruise passengers respond to these new methods of engagement.

Last year, Carnival Corp. produced a handful of TV series that it hoped would serve as giant billboards for cruising.

On Monday, the world’s largest cruise ship company announced it had come up with a new tool to get those programs — and more — to consumers.

OceanView, a free over-the-top (or OTT) digital streaming channel, will be available on the following digital streaming platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. Programming will also appear on half of the company’s cruise ships and on a dedicated website next month.

“Our focus is all about expanding the market for cruising,” said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Corp. “We really believe if we can get the most authentic experiences out there in original content and have distribution that is on network, on cable, and now on OTT, then we can get the message out to the broadest audiences.”

The channel will feature episodes of shows Carnival has already produced. They include “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin,” which airs on ABC stations; “Vacation Creation,” which aired on The CW for its first season and is moving to ABC; “The Voyager with Josh Garcia,” on NBC channels; and “Good Spirits,” which was seen on A&E and FYI.

Carnival is also making two new direct-to-digital series, called “GO” and “Local Eyes.” Episodes of those shows will be short, with “GO” following the artist Trek Thunder Kelly on his travels and “Local Eyes” featuring host Anji Corley interacting with residents of destinations.

OceanView will also include videos from Carnival Corp.’s nine brands, which include Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Costa Cruises, and P&O Cruises.

In an announcement, Carnival executives said the move fits into the company’s “larger strategy to increase awareness and demand for cruise vacations through the creation and broad distribution of compelling and authentic experiential content.”

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., said in a statement that the various series the company has been making for the past year have been breaking perceptions about cruising.

“We are excited about making our authentic experiences accessible to people around the world through digital media,” Donald said in the statement. “Our ultimate goal is to continue generating broad awareness of cruising as a great vacation and exceptional value, and to inspire consumers to consider cruising as a vacation option.”

Earlier this year, Donald said Carnival would increase its spending on advertising and marketing in the quarter that ends Nov. 30. Padgett said the new OceanView channel will make up part — but not all — of that increased spending.

New Territory for Cruises

Padgett said Carnival’s move is groundbreaking, and not just for the cruise industry.

“This is a major first for the cruise industry and really more broadly for the travel industry, of really going beyond conventional advertising and conventional sales and marketing tactics,” Padgett said. He added: “We’re really integrating things in ways that have never been done before.”

The Walt Disney Company announced earlier this year that it is also launching a branded direct-to-consumer streaming service in 2019. But Padgett, who previously worked for Disney, pointed out that that company is primarily a media and entertainment company that also owns theme parks and cruise ships.

“I believe their OTT development is primarily associated with the changing distribution model of network and cable TV,” Padgett said. “That is not our focus. That is not our concern, and that is not our driver. We are focused on wrapping the guest in immersive experiential content from the living room to the stateroom to everywhere in between.”

New Gaming Apps

Carnival also announced on Monday that it had created original mobile games available through two apps — PlayOcean Everywhere and PlayOcean Casino — both of which can be downloaded on the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

PlayOcean Everywhere, available later this week, lets users play poker, slots, roulette, and bingo games for free on land with no money at stake. On ships that are wired for it, passengers can play those same games for money through PlayOcean Casino, which can be downloaded in November.

Padgett said Carnival had offered some mobile wager games on different brands in the past, but the company has never invested in original games.

The onboard wager games will be available on Princess Cruises ships are part of the company’s new Medallion class, where passengers use small medallions to pay, enter rooms, and enable greater personalization.

Those same ships will also offer interactive and location-based games onboard, including a scavenger hunt, virtual race, and trivia.

Padgett said the same platform that enables the wearable technology experience on a ship drives the media experiences on OceanView and PlayOcean.

“Essentially we have one experiential platform for guest engagement, whether it’s in the digital or physical world,” he said.


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Tags: carnival, cruising, marketing

Photo credit: Carnival is launching a digital streaming channel to deliver its original content. Pictured is the series "GO" as seen on a Roku player. Carnival Corp.

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