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Improved communications underscore future of successful cruise retail

Enhanced health measures has turned some MSC Cruises' passengers in to purchasers instead of 'window shoppers,' remarked Adrian Pittaway.
A successful retail environment on board cruise vessels comes from improving messaging to passengers ahead of boarding.

So said Lisa Bauer, president and CEO, Starboard Cruise Services on the second day of April’s Seatrade Cruise Virtual series, focussing on the Guest Experience. 

‘I don’t think we do a good job in pre-cruise communications, [the] retail experience. I see that as a huge opportunity.’ 

Moderator Ryan Stana, CEO and founder, RWS Entertainment Group remarked, ‘On [Celebrity Cruises], I would have bought some extra bucks to spend if I knew… it was like shopping on 5th Avenue.’

‘Revenge spending’ 

Bauer went on to add that ‘there’s greater than normal value out there’ currently, owing to the need to shift stock – and likened purchasing on board vessels as ‘revenge spending’ after lengthy lockdown periods. 

The comments came during the session entitled. ‘Retail Therapy: shopping trends for next year’s traveller,’ which saw the panelists discuss agile design in the retail space that enablesa for flexibility. 

Window shopping evolved 

Adrian Pittaway, head of retail, MSC Cruises lent his expertise to the discussion, noting, ‘The fundamentals have changed a lot since pre-pandemic. The way they’re [passengers] interacting with shopping is really interesting.’ 

He continued, ‘They’ve come back on to cruise ships and resumed spending as in the past, even though ecommerce on land has taken off. 

‘When we restarted last August we worked tirelessly really focusing on safety protocol, revenue second… the safety protocol turned window shoppers into interested shoppers.’ 

He commented that ‘wear now, buy now’ ranges are ‘doing really well’ and said ‘the shared experience’ of lockdown means cruise lines could ‘see specific categories and products doing very well - more so than before lockdown when motivations were very different.’ 


Pittaway went on to explain that ‘luxury watches and jewelry will always be important areas,’ with ‘big trends being in areas like sustainability,’ as he touched charity retailing. 

He concluded, ‘The nuts and bolts of cruise retail has been steady over time… [but] adaptability and resilience to change is one of the most important things we’re going to have to do… We’re thinking: in 2040, what on Earth is going to be required in retailing?’

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