Princess Cruises had a record wave season, and plans to make 2017/18 another bumper season.
Princess, which claims to have more cruise passengers on board for the most nights of any line in Australia, carried over 250,000 passengers this year.
President Australia and New Zealand Stuart Allison described it as a “huge result”.
“It was our biggest wave – the biggest wave season for Princess and the biggest wave for Carnival. It was a huge success,” he told Cruise Passenger.
“I’m very confident that over the next few years we will see growth not just locally but internationally.”
Princess Cruises will unveil its 2018 program next week – and there is expected to be a big focus on fly-cruise to Asia and extending its experiential ‘Across the Ditch’ New Zealand program.
The season will also see the emergence of a new big by Princess to capture families with a Discovery study program run out of three new centres on board the Sea Princess. Sea Princess is due to be upgraded in October – and one of the important new features designed as a foil for the water slides and surf pools of other lines will be three new kids centres.
The program, designed for children over three to teenagers, has been developed with the Californian Science Centre and Discovery Communications. In Asia, it is aimed squarely at Tiger Mums, who are keen to ensure their children continue their education even when on holiday.
But Princess believes the programs – which include fun elements – will appeal to Australian parents looking for added value from their cruises.
The Diamond Princess will be homeported in Sydney at the end of the year, as the Emerald Princess – one of the successes of the 2016-17 season – is off to Alaska.
But because capacity in Australia will be down, Asia has become a new focus, with airfares down and popular Princess ships homeported in Singapore.
“Our forward bookings for Singapore are the strongest they’ve ever been, so everything points to a successful year ahead,” said Mr Allison.
Princess has an EasyAir product which means guests can book flights link around their holiday arrangements.
Promoting EasyAir and a TV campaign around fly-cruise has produced remarkable results.
The Across the Ditch program has been a key weapon in recruiting new cruise passengers, and includes new food and wine programs and cultural experiences like Haka lessons.
It was soft launched last year, but will be promoted during July.
Ateed Auckland and ID Tours will refresh shore programs, which is expected to attract more Australians and North Americans.
But Mr Allison maintained the high spot was the near-sell-out of Princess’ three world cruises from Australia – with the majority of passengers signing up for the entire journey.
“To delivery three world cruises is a very proud moment. I remember first sketching out the itinerary in 2008 and wonder if there was a market for it,” he said.
Mr Allison was speaking on board Princess’ newest ship – Majestic Princess sailed her inaugural cruise through the Adriatic last week before a “Silk Road’ journey to Shanghai, China, where she will be based.
The $600 million vessel in a template for the next three Royal class vessels – and Mr Allison said many of Majestic’s new features, from Michelin starred French and Chinese chefs to expanded spas, branded retail malls and a stronger program for young people, would find their way onto other fleet vessels – including the vessels in Australia.
“We would love the opportunity – whether it’s this ship or the next ship in the class – to come to Australia. And I’m pretty confident that in 2019 we will see this class of ship in other Princess markets. Fantastic to get to the points where Europe, Alaska, Australia all have one.”