Is Disney Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Disney Dream, just for families? Would a couple without kids enjoy themselves? What’s with the interactive art Disney’s been talking about? Would a client want to sail on the ship more than once?
Travel Market Report asked cruise sellers who sailed on the Disney Dream’s inaugural or the Ear-Marked preview cruise for Disney specialists about their experiences onboard and how they would position and sell the new ship.
What is the target market for the Disney Dream?
“The Disney Dream excels at meeting the needs for the family vacation market, but the Disney Dream offers something for everyone. The adults-only areas, dining options and nightclubs are on par with other cruise lines that traditionally focus on the over-18 crowd.” – Beci Mahnken, president/CEO, MEI-Travel - Mouse Fan Travel, Seattle
“Mid- to upper-income families with children ages three to 12. Families looking for a wholesome, safe environment for their children.” – Carol Zwerner, Cruise Planners, Carrollton, Texas
“Families with children of all ages and singles, empty nesters, even honeymooners – or anyone else traveling without children but who are big kids themselves.” – Lisa Givas, president, Academy Travel Inc., Waretown, N.J.
What were highlights of the onboard experience?
“The dining experience: The client changes restaurants daily, and the serving staff goes with them.” – Linda Schreiber, Owner, Starship Travel, Arlington Heights, Ill.
“One highlight is the ‘living art’ around the ship. These are pieces of art that come to life when you pass by them, showing an animated scene. There’s even a detective game that can be played with special cards onboard. It is a fun game for the whole family and a great way to tour the ship.” – Chet McDoniel, owner, Off to Neverland Travel, LLC, Keller, Texas
“Everyone must experience the AquaDuck. This water ride allows guests of all ages to be shot out over the side of the ship and then flow along the top looking down at all of the other guests enjoying the rooftop activities. The activity centers for the children are beyond what any other cruise line offers.” – Randy Osborne, tour & Disney product manager, AAA Mid-Atlantic, Wilmington, Del.
“The new virtual porthole staterooms, which have taken the inside stateroom concept to a whole new level by mounting real-time cameras outside the ship and piping the view to a porthole-shaped screen inside the stateroom, giving you the feeling that you are looking out through an actual window. Every now and then, an animated character or other Disney pal will make a quick appearance bringing a little entertainment.” – Beci Mahnken
“All the details on the entire ship; for example, the chandeliers with glass slippers, the Cinderella Coach carvings on every chair and Cinderella Coach bread baskets in the Royal Palace.” – Lisa Givas
What are some key selling points for the Disney Dream?
“The AquaDuck – no other ship has this. Disney characters throughout the ship, like in the dining room, Royal Palace, where Disney Princesses roam throughout. In Animator's Palette, children can interact with Nemo on virtual screens while they dine. A wholesome environment (i.e. no casino).” – Carol Zwerner
“Disney also made this ship a bit more wheelchair-friendly by providing multiple entries/exits for large venues, including multiple wheelchair seating locations in the main theatre.” – Chet McDoniel
“The key selling points are the activities for the children. In the Oceaneer Club and Lab, children explore their imagination and experience a world of wonder and magic. And the fun doesn’t stop there. In the evening, adults and children of all ages can dance the night away in their age-specific hangout.” – Randy Osborne
What’s the repeat sales potential for the Disney Dream?
“Excellent. There’s an onboard booking incentive of 10% off a client’s next cruise plus $100 to $200 onboard credit. One of every two of my guests rebook Disney onboard or sail year after year.” – Carol Zwerner
“Combine the trust and adoration people have for the Disney brand with the features and innovations of the Disney Dream, and I think you have a recipe for loyal, repeat clients for years to come.” – Beci Mahnken
“This ship will probably command a high repeat customer. Disney offers an extremely high level of service. Pairing that with the amenities, shows, dinning options and activities, individuals are sure to want to revisit this ship over and over.” – Randy Osborne
What is the best way to market the Disney Dream?
“I would suggest leveraging the strong family focus of the Disney brand and targeting opportunities that will reach out to the family and multi-generational clientele.” – Beci Mahnken
“We started with past Disney clients as well as past cruisers. We make outbound calls to our Disney clients who have never cruised before. We created a newsletter along with personal pictures of the ship and Castaway Cay and distributed it to my entire database.” – Lisa Givas
“The Disney Dream should be marketed as an experience. This is not your standard cruise and you are not selecting it for the itinerary. The ship is a destination; there are enough activities to keep any child and adult enthralled for days on end.” – Randy Osborne
What are some possible obstacles, or is there anything agents need to keep in mind before selling the Disney Dream?
“One possible obstacle is the queen beds on the standard rooms do not split into two twins as is the usual norm for the cruise industry. It’s important that you have a full understanding of the bedding options of the cabin you are recommending especially when you are talking about adults traveling together or other traveling parties who may not share a bed. There are pull-out couches and ceiling bunk bed options available in some standard rooms, as well as Murphy-type pullouts in others.” – Beci Mahnken
“No casino. Food is rather bland and small portions (except on the alternate restaurants, Palo and Remy). Small pool areas.” – Carol Zwerner
“They are not cheap. But the quality and inclusiveness on the ship are worth it. Childrens’ facilities and soda are all included.” – Linda Schreiber
“The one thing to remember is that the Disney Dream experience is going to cost more than your standard three- or four-night cruise. However, it is all about the experience you are receiving. When you sell this product you must ensure you are painting the picture of the experience and truly showing your clients the magic this ship has to offer.” – Randy Osborne
“Book early. Not finding the space for future clients is our only obstacle.” – Lisa Givas