Popularity of Full Ship Music Themed Charters Exploding!
Quick update on the Country Music Cruise – a Caribbean cruise out of Ft Lauderdale, FL – on Holland America’s Westerdam. Country music stars that sailed on this cruise: Vince Gill, Kenny Rogers, the Gatlin Brothers, Jo Dee Messina, Restless Heart, Patty Loveless, Ty Herndon…to name a few!
Click HERE to read about our recent experience on Entertainment Cruise Production’s Smooth Jazz Cruise.
Click HERE to read about what went down between shows (yes, this exception musical extravaganza came gift wrapped in a five star cruise!)
Steady repeat business and higher customer satisfaction levels than the typical garden variety cruise have made full ship theme charters a bonafide growth industry – with something for everyone. Several companies have perfected the art of producing festivals at sea – featuring major artists from every genre, jazz to pop to country.
These full ship charterers take over the entire ship – making the experience unique – and claim to have the happiest guests on the high seas. And my research shows that there is something to this satisfaction claim.
Always on the lookout for cost effective ways to increase customer loyalty and satisfaction, as well as identify developing market segments – a recent random encounter with past participants in ECP’s Smooth Jazz Cruise got my attention. Their effusiveness was contagious…representing the best kind of word-of-mouth buzz a travel retailer could hope for.
But, I needed convincing. Aren’t the fare markups over the typical non-charter cruise…enough to dissuade many prospects?
Just what is the added value that accounts for a repeat rate north of 60%?
What’s the sizzle that would cause one recent music themed charter to sell out in just 75 days?
When asked what justfied paying the small but not insignificant premium over an ordinary cruise, the most often cited reasons where…
- Total immersion in the music – two concerts nightly with multiple artists onstage for an end-of-show jam
- The many spontaneous performances – by the pool and at night time in small venues with featured artists sitting in the ship’s musicians
- A ‘one-big-family’ atmosphere with greater passenger interaction – getting to know others more than on ordinary cruises
- Accessiblity of the featured performers – socializing, dining and becoming lifelong friends with many of the most talented and best known performers of today
My take – I get the sense that these charters are the perfect opportunity for wanna be groupies – too shy or polite to actually make a move on their own – to let the artists come to them. Stories abound of artists seeking out fans, stopping by their dining tables, swapping stories, exchanging contact information, etc. (Do you have to hang a sign over your table saying “Famous Artist Stalkers Wanted”?)
Two companies are dominating the market in full charter theme cruises – defined as situations where they take over the entire ship, selling all of the tickets, setting the menus, even dictating the ports of call and duration of call stops. In short, a completely customized experience.
Sixthman – having done some 49 full ship charters to date – caters primarily to the rock & roll crowd on shorter, three and four day cruises. The on board ambiance is party, party, party. The chartered ships are usually mass market, such as NCL or Carnival.
In 2011, Inc. Magazine named Sixthman ‘Americas Fastest Growing Travel Company’, describing the product as “theme cruises with an emphasis on celebrating the communities around pop musicians and their fans.” They were also a Cruise Critic Editor’s Pick for 2010 as “Best for Music Lovers”.
Sixthman has some interesting theme sailings coming up, including the Simple Man Cruise, the Kiss Kruise, the Turner Classic Movie Cruise, the Mountain Song Cruise (folk & bluegrass), the Rock The Boat Cruise and Kid Rock’s ‘Chillin’ The Most’ Cruise.
Entertainment Cruise Productions (ECP)- has produced some 30 full-ship charters and offers the more upscale Jazz Cruise and the immensely popular Smooth Jazz Cruise, Malt Shop Memories Cruise, the Soul Train Cruise, the Studio 54 Cruise and last but not least, the Ship of Fear Horror Cruise (“Oh no, waiter, please don’t spill more coffee down my dress! We’ll give you a five star rating, promise!”). These are seven day cruises on premium class Holland America Lines. Their demographic is a little older and more laid back.
Give us a call at 972-333-3454 or email if you’d like information on specific theme sailings, pricing and availability.