The majority of cruise lines have official accounts on popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter where they share information about their ships, destinations, and special offers. They use these platforms to respond to customer enquiries and concerns in real-time, thus strengthening customer service levels. The rise of social media in cruise has also arguably paved the way for new generations of cruise travellers.
Since arriving in the 1990’s, social media has enjoyed phenomenal growth in all areas. It continues to redefine the way we live, work and interact with one another. When deployed in the right way, it can effectively tell compelling stories, allowing people to share their most exciting experiences. Crucially, they can do this easily and quickly. This has definitely in turn led to an evolution in the way individuals behave. It has also helped to change the way businesses behave, too. More specifically, it has impacted the way they market their products and services. Here we explore the rise of social media in cruise. We look at more content originating on board and at cruise lines adopting social media-driven marketing campaigns.
The Social Media Behemoth
Whether you are an active user or not, there is no denying that social media is absolutely huge. Many believe that the first true platform came into being in 1997, with the launch of SixDegrees.com. It allowed people to set up a profile page, create connection lists and send messages within networks. Despite amassing around one million users and then being bought out for $125 million, the site was shut down in 2000. Since then, however, it has made something of a comeback and still subsists today.
This one example demonstrates the sheer power and popularity of social media websites and platforms. Indeed, social network users rose from 970 million in 2010 to 4.2 billion in January 2021. They then rose again in the proceeding 12 months, reaching 4.62 billion in January 2022. In a world of around 7.7 billion people, it is clear that most now use social media to some degree.
Fun Social Media Facts
- The average person uses up to 7 different social networks per month
- On average, adults use social media for up to 95 minutes per day (across all platforms)
- In 2020, Facebook accounted for 25% of all US digital ad spend
- Instagram streaming services have an 81% engagement rate, versus Facebook’s 8%
- LinkedIn ad revenue grew by 37% in 2021, exceeding $1 billion
Technology In Cruise
From 2000 onward, technology in cruise began to be deployed to a far greater extent. Indeed, the last 20 years has seen the industry welcoming some truly mind-boggling technological innovations. For example, 2004 saw the arrival of Royal Caribbean’s FlowRider surf simulator. Then, in 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line added a race track and Royal Caribbean built the largest cruise ship in the world, Symphony of the Seas. With a near-7,000 passenger capacity, cruising has clearly come a long way since 1900. Some would argue that it is in the wake of these developments that cruise is finally now shedding its image as a choice for the older generations. That is correct, cruise has traditionally been viewed as a leisure-time pursuit for the old and retired. As it now reaches younger markets, however, that perception is definitely shifting.
Social Media And Cruising
The rise of social media in cruise is helping to make cruise holidays more appealing to younger generations. Social media is being embraced on board to a much higher degree and in a variety of different ways. More content is now originating directly from cruise ships, for example. This can also be attributed to a general increase in the usage of social platforms – regardless of age – plus an increase in bandwidth on board. Social media is very much a touchpoint throughout the entire cruise holiday experience today. But is that because more younger people are flocking to cruise or because cruise lines are actively integrating tech at more levels?
The answer is probably a bit of both. From initial booking confirmation through to welcome home messaging, cruise line apps are a huge aspect of any cruise trip. Cruise lines are actively adopting social media-driven marketing campaigns and initiatives as standard, too. Social media has even allowed some people to forge successful careers as bloggers and vloggers.
Content On Board And Cruise Marketing
The rise of social media has had a huge impact on the cruise industry. In the past, cruise lines primarily relied on traditional marketing methods to reach potential customers. These typically consisted of print and television advertising, but the advent of platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have allowed cruise lines to directly engage with customers in a more personal and interactive way.
There are many different types of social media content that is generated on a cruise ship, such as:
- Videos and photos of the ship itself, including shots of the exterior, the interior common areas, and the cabins or staterooms
- Photos and videos of the destinations visited, including landmarks, beaches, and other points of interest
- Live updates from on board activities, such as dance parties or trivia contests
- Reviews and recommendations for dining options, excursions, and other activities on the ship
- Personal traveller stories and experiences
- Behind-the-scenes footage of the ship’s operations, such as on the galley or the bridge
It is fair to say that this content helps to augment the experience for those enjoying a cruise holiday. It also offers encouragement for anybody considering taking a cruise. Word-of-mouth has always been the Holy Grail for marketers; everything they do is geared towards generating ‘buzz’ and excitement. Effectively recruiting brand ambassadors is as good as it gets and social media offers amazing platforms for this.
Disney Cruise Lines’ Avengers Academy
This themed activity programme for children takes place on board Disney Cruise Line ships. The programme is inspired by the Marvel Comics superhero team the Avengers. It is designed to give children the opportunity to “train” like their favourite superheroes. They are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities that are designed to help them develop teamwork, problem-solving skills, and confidence. These activities can include arts and crafts, games, challenges, and interactive workshops. Children are also given the chance to meet and interact with Marvel Comics characters such as Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man.
The Avengers Academy is just one of many on board activities offered by Disney Cruise Lines. Crucially, it is one which completely lends itself to social media. Who does not want to share images of their children standing next to Iron Man? Who does not want to share updates on their child’s progress through the academy? It is not as if people shy away from Avengers-led content, either. Marvel movies are regular chart-toppers at the global cinematic box office. In August 2022, Disney Plus announced that 14.4 million paid subscribers had joined in the last quarter. Many of these people subscribed to watch the latest Marvel television shows such as Loki and Hawkeye.
Read Disney’s article on new characters from Black Panther coming to Marvel Day at Sea.
Top Cruise Bloggers And Vloggers
As aforementioned, the rise of social media in cruise has also seen the arrival of a host of influencers who share their experiences on cruises with their followers. These influencers often have large followings on social media and can help generate buzz and interest in a particular cruise line or ship. The top cruise bloggers by website traffic and searches currently include the following:
Vlogging has grown exponentially in recent years too, as general internet connectivity is further reaching and stronger. YouTube also continues to grow year-on-year, with around 2.1 billion monthly active users around the world and approximately 122 million users per day. Top travel vlogs currently include:
- Tips For Travellers
- La Lido Loca
- Royal Caribbean Blog
- Don’s Family Vacations
- Cruise With Ben & David
Read the Oct 2022 Tips for Travellers article for the top 100 cruise vlogger channels.
Cruise lines use social media to promote their cruises and interact with customers. They have encouraged greater uptake of social media activity on board their ships via better Wi-Fi connectivity. This has allowed passengers to stay connected at sea and in turn has led to the emergence of a new type of travel experience, known as “social media cruising”. Passengers and influencers are sharing their experiences while on the ship with ever more audiences eager to lap this content up.
In addition to its use by cruise lines and influencers, social media has also become an important tool for passengers to plan and document their cruise vacations. Many passengers use social media to research and compare different cruise options. It is now much easier for cruise lines to connect with them, too, thus improving the customer experience and helping to build greater customer loyalty.
Social media offers cruise lines a quick and easy way to showcase their ships, destinations, and onboard experiences. The rise of social media has had a significant impact on the cruise industry and it is likely that this trend will continue in the future.
Seatrade Cruise Global 2023
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