Cruise

Carnival boss on “Aussifying” their cruise line

Daisy Doctor

Even the largest cruise line in the world can make mistakes, despite months of research, physical ship changes and a self-proclaimed ‘Aussification’.

Speaking at the Travel DAZE conference in Sydney, Carnival Cruise Lines Australia GM and Vice President Jennifer Vandekreeke admitted the Carnival team thought they’d nailed it when the company had its maiden voyage in Australia, but as it turned out there were a few lessons to learn, as was the theme of the Travel DAZE conference.

“My boss told me to go down to Australia and try start a cruise line. We were typical Americans creating an ‘Aussified’ experience,” she said.

Vandekreeke called the ship’s complete overhaul the “Aussification” of Carnival Cruises, meaning a fresh BBQ, a new green slide and an understanding of Australian coffee culture.

“We knew there was no better country on the planet for Carnival Cruises than Australia, but we didn’t want to pull a Starbucks,” Vandekreeke said.

After Carnival Spirit’s eight-day maiden voyage of Australia, the ship arrived back in Sydney and Vandekreeke was waiting at the dock with open arms.

She ran up to the ship’s hotelier and both agreed the ship’s Net Promotor Score (NPS) – which measures guest satisfaction – would be off the charts.

Unfortunately, they were wrong.

“We thought we killed it and our NPS would be off the charts, as it turned out our NPS came back as the lowest amoungst every ship,” Vandekreeke said.

“We were devastated, we questioned everything. The one thing we knew was Australia and Carnival Cruises were right for each other, but that was it.”

Vandekreeke and her team started again. Looking at guest responses to the cruise, they realized one thing; Australians don’t complain.

There were three massive learnings; Australians love to participate in on-board activities, they rarely spend hours sitting outside on the deck and Aussie children tag along with parents wherever they go.

“Aussies take kids to activities, our US customers don’t. Also, for some reason Aussie kids think it’s perfectly normal to hang out in a bar after 10pm,” she said.

“We offloaded 500 beach sun loungers because Aussies weren’t using them because they were too busy participating in the activities.”

The results of this second-wave of Aussification were staggering.

“After six months Carnival Spirit was at the average for the fleet.

“In 2016 she was number one across all 20 ships and Carnival Legend was number three. Our 2015 failures lead to arguably the greatest success in 2016,” Vandekreeke said.

Vandekreeke said success comes from understanding and accepting a business for what it is, and in the case of Carnival, it’s “family friendly free-spirited fun; not luxurious, hip and cool”.

“I’ve had people who say we need more quiet spots around deck,. My response is ‘no we don’t’. We’re not gonna have bridge tournaments, you’re on the wrong ship,” Vandekreeke said.

“The job of my sales team is to let guest know were loud and fun and vibrant, so when our guests come on board they know what to expect, and then my on-board team takes it up a notch to surprise them.”

“Shakespeare once wrote ‘Expectation is the root of all heartache’ and it’s true.”

For Vandekreeke, it’s about being fun and reliable, but always adding in a tiny bit of surprise to keep your guests on their toes.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Leave a Reply

Wholesalers

Wholesaler Wrap: Gate 1’s big discount, A&K’s exclusive South Africa deals + MORE!

Do you consider yourself a bit of bargain hunter? Well, we’ve done all the work for you with this generous wrap of deals from wholesalers and tour operators.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Academy Museum goes more than $100m over budget

by Christian Fleetwood

In celebration of the news, Travel Weekly’s reporter has upgraded from his usual beach bum aesthetic and dressed as “The Dude”, with a White Russian in hand.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

REVEALED: All the winners from this year’s Cruise Industry Awards

by Christian Fleetwood

Unfortunately, no award was given to the delicious pinot noir served on the night nor the ginormous cheese board.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Qantas pilots go above union to prevent Project Sunrise take-off

New reports have revealed Qantas’ Project Sunrise plans are being thwarted by a group of rebellious pilots.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Holland America cruise passenger diagnosed with coronavirus, as Diamond Princess cases jump to 355

by Ali Coulton

Japanese authorities have confirmed a further 70 cases of coronavirus on Diamond Princess, while a passenger who disembarked from Westerdam has tested positive for the disease.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Destination Wrap: Tourism Australia’s conference theme change, New Chile and Vegas campaigns + MORE!

Looking to impress your colleagues with your destination knowledge around the office water cooler this week? Reach expert status instantly with this.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Russian tourist killed at popular Sydney beach

The man, who has been identified as a Russian DJ, was walking along the rocks with his wife when a large wave knocked them off their feet and into the water.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

WATCH: The plane seat punches that sparked a massive online debate

A disgruntled plane passenger has sparked intense online debate after he repeatedly punched the back of a woman’s chair because she reclined her seat.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Where to experience Fukushima’s legendary samurai history

by Sponsored by Aizu Dream Development

In Japan, legendary samurai walked the streets, swords at their hips, as recently as 150 years ago. Here is the best place to soak up their incredible stories.

Share

CommentComments

Wholesalers

Helloworld to purchase Excite Holidays’ booking platform, as former staff resurface

by Huntley Mitchell

Look! It’s not one, but two important updates regarding failed wholesaler Excite Holidays, accentuated by a generic iStock image.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Agent Wrap: AFTA announces roadshow, Silversea’s massive incentive, Visit USA kicks off expos + MORE!

by Mekal Mishra

Incentives and expos and famils, oh my! Get the latest update on all the fab perks your agent mates have enjoyed this week, and get in on a few of them yourself, with this week’s Agent Wrap.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

The mysterious case of Bill Gates and the $747 million hydrogen-powered superyacht

by Christian Fleetwood

It’s a case that seemingly fooled the press, but did the world’s second-richest man really buy ‘Aqua’? Travel Weekly investigates this not so major mystery.

Share

CommentComments