Travellers, while they love to explore new destinations and experience new cultures, still love touches of home, research shows.
Cruise lines make an effort to cater for every nationality. For instance, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line have Chinese signage for guests when sailing in Southeast Asian and Chinese waters.
When American-owned cruise ships first came to Australia, they were forced to make extensive effort to make Aussies feel at home as well.
Now Carnival Cruise Lines Australia’s Vice President Jennifer Vanderkreeke has revealed just how important those changes are in pleasing Aussie cruisers.
Talking of the launch of the brand in Australia five years ago, she told a recent travel conference: “My boss told me to go down to Australia to start a cruise line. We were typical Americans creating an ‘Aussified’ experience.”
“We knew there was no better country on the planet for Carnival Cruises than Australia – but we didn’t want to pull a Starbucks.”
Starbucks, a world wide coffee brand which largely failed in Australia is often cited for not localising its products enough.
But with no alterations to Carnival Spirit’s maiden voyage fresh from the US, the feedback was not good.
“We thought we killed it and our Net Promotion Score (which measures guest satisfaction) would be off the charts. But it turns out our NPS came back as the lowest among every ship.”
It was a learning curve for the Carnival team.
After research, Ms Vandekreeke said that Australians rarely spend hours sitting outside on the deck, the kids tag along everywhere with their parents and they love to participate in onboard activities.
In 2012, the Carnival Spirit was given the ‘Aussification’ treatment – a new outdoor barbecue, a new serenity deck and Australian power points. In 2014, her sister the Carnival Legend also had a refurb with the addition Asian-inspired food outlets, the Green Thunder slide as well as the Red Frog Pub.
“We’ve listened to what Australians love most about Carnival Spirit, and took into account the latest trends in hospitality on shore here in Australia and in the US to design the best upgrades for Carnival Legend,” said Ms Vanderkreeke in 2014.
Princess Cruises, another Carnival Corporation brand, told Cruise Passenger last year how it “Aussified” the Emerald Princess.
“We have converted the whole ship from US to Aussie. We have changed all our menus, we have changed beverage selections, coffee. We have added 80 seats in the piazza because we know Australians love their coffee – that doubled the capacity,” said Stuart Allison, the vice president of Princess Cruises in Australia & New Zealand.
Food and beverage manager Dieter Welp added: “We’ve got local dishes, we are using a lot more lamb. Pavlova is always available.
“In the hamburger bar, we’ve put in beetroot because we understand Aussies love their beetroot. We’re buying locally mayonnaise because it is sweeter than the American one.”
Royal Caribbean’s Ovation of the Seas which is home-ported in China and Australia, also changes little things on its ships to make both their Chinese and Aussie guests feel at home. For example, when Ovation sails to Australia, she’s stocked with more local brews and the all-important, Australian coffee.