Perfect partners

Jacqui Griffiths looks at the big brand partnerships that are helping cruise and ferry operators to create an exclusive experience for guests

Perfect partners
An exclusive partnership between MSC Cruises and Jean Louis David will see branded salons introduced across the fleet by the end of the year
This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2016 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Partnering with big brands is proving an effective way to help cruise and ferry operators deliver an exceptional guest experience. Recent partnerships span retail, food and beverage, and spa offerings, and the latest news from established partnerships points to the continued success that can be achieved.

MSC Cruises has a number of successful partnerships that help differentiate the onboard experience for guests of all ages. A partnership with Italian childcare brand Chicco has helped the operator to create a programme of onboard entertainment activities for babies and toddlers, while its collaboration with LEGO provides dedicated play areas for older children and the LEGO Experience On Board, an entire day dedicated to activities for the whole family. A number of food and beverage partnerships with brands such as Nutella and EATALY, as well as leading chefs including world-renowned chocolatier Jean-Philippe Maury and Japanese-American celebrity chef Roy Yamaguchi, provide exclusive dining experiences for guests. Most recently, MSC Cruises announced an exclusive partnership with global hairstyling brand Jean Louis David, which will see branded salons introduced across its fleet by the end of the year.

“This latest announcement reflects our long-term commitment and strategy to bring our guests an ever broader set of unique and often exclusive experiences across our fleet through true, end-to-end partnerships with world-class experts in their field,” said Gianni Onorato, chief executive of MSC Cruises, revealing the partnership with Jean Louis David in June.

A ground-breaking partnership between Carnival Cruise Line and Miami-based Concrete Beach Brewery, signed in March, will see the creation of the first brewery at sea in North America. Concrete Beach is working closely with Carnival to develop original recipes and source the finest ingredients to produce three distinctive craft beers that will be brewed onboard Carnival’s newest and largest ship, Carnival Vista.“We’ve been working for months with these talented partners who have helped us create three exciting and unique craft beers for Carnival Vista and we anticipate our guests are going to absolutely love them,” said Eddie Allen, Carnival’s vice president of beverage operations, when the partnership was announced.

Partnering with passengers’ favourite brands to give them the quality they expect on the high street is another effective way to enhance their travel experience. That was the aim of Scandlines when it teamed up with global coffee brand Starbucks. ‘GoodtoGo’ outlets on Scandlines’ Deutschland and Schleswig-Holstein ferries on the Puttgarden-Rødby route have been renovated and staff were given extensive product training in preparation for the offering, which has been available since April 2016.

“Starbucks is currently positioned in all international cities and airports,” commented Kerim L. Aydin, senior vice president of retail and catering at Scandlines when the partnership was announced. “We find it only natural that our customers have the opportunity to enjoy a cup of Starbucks midway between the big cities of Copenhagen and Hamburg. The days of bad coffee are long behind us at Scandlines, and now we are proving our focus on quality.”

When it comes to adding a touch of luxury, scent can speak volumes. Seabourn Cruise Line has collaborated with fragrance pioneer Molton Brown over the past 14 years, and the latest fruit of that partnership is the launch of Seabourn Signature Scents, two exotic fragrances designed exclusively for cruise guests. The scents – Immersive Samphire & Eucalyptus, and Inspiring Basil & Vetiver – blend ingredients sourced from the coastlines that Seabourn ships explore. Initially launched as complimentary bath amenities in guest suites, they will be available for sale in early 2017.

“During our 14-year partnership with Molton Brown, we have been able to combine their expertise at blending rare ingredients with Seabourn’s spirit of discovering the hidden travel gems,” Christopher Prelog, vice president of hotel operations and marine hotel purchasing for Seabourn, told ICFR. “The new Seabourn Signature Scents collection, exclusively designed for Seabourn, is only available onboard our ships, giving guests an elevated luxury experience when they travel with us. The collection was designed to invoke a sense of nautical adventure, as if inviting guests to explore secret treasures that wait in ports we visit around the globe. With several months spent developing distinctive scent combinations, the collection serves to remind guests of the experience of their Seabourn cruise long after they’ve returned home.”

Exclusive at-sea boutiques are also helping ferry operators to differentiate their passengers’ experience. Viking Line’s Viking Grace is home to the only floating shop of America’s best-selling lingerie and beauty product brand, Victoria’s Secret. The boutique has exceeded expectations since it opened in November 2014.

“Victoria’s Secret products remain popular here, even though they are available elsewhere in Finland,” said Eva Rehnström, Viking Line’s purchasing and sales manager for beauty and fashion, on the first anniversary of the store’s opening. “The most dedicated fans travel with Viking Line just for the sake of this shop. Passengers are especially pleased with its wide selection and attractive prices. That is because we sell the items tax-free, at prices that are even lower than at European airports, for instance.”

Other operators are also providing exclusive shopping at sea. In 2015, P&O Cruises launched the first at-sea Pandora jewellery stores on five of its Australia-based ships. “Pandora is a brand that’s known and loved around the world and we think it will be a huge hit with our guests who’ll love the chance to buy the jewellery as a gift or a keepsake during their holiday,” said Sture Myrmell, senior vice president of P&O Cruises, when revealing the partnership in May 2015.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s partnership with French clothing company Lacoste and luxury goods brand Carolina Herrera saw the retailers opening their first at-sea boutiques onboard Norwegian Escape, which launched in November 2015. “These exclusive boutiques from two legendary fashion industry icons add further glamour to one of the most exciting cruise ships ever built,” said Andy Stuart, Norwegian Cruise Line’s president and COO, when the partnership was announced. “Lacoste and Carolina Herrera will offer Norwegian Escape guests a shopping experience unlike any at sea.”

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Jacqui Griffiths
By Jacqui Griffiths
Friday, September 23, 2016