Paul Holmes 10 May 2001 // 11:00PM GMT
The world’s largest and most innovative cruise ship, Voyager of the Seas was launched in Miami in November 1999 and received an unparalleled 15 national network segments, including NBC Today Show and NBC Nightly News, more than 500 affiliate television segments and thousands of print feature articles. Voyager’s twin, the 142,000 Explorer of the Seas was slated to arrive in the U.S. in October 2000, less than a year after Voyager. Via public relations, excitement needed to be generated about Explorer in spite of the recent stories and television segments about its twin Voyager. Explorer public relations ended up generating multiple national lifestyle segments on the CBS Early Show, E! Entertainment Television, FOX Newsfeed, CBS Newspath and on dozens of top market affiliate broadcast networks and hundreds of print outlets.
The buzz surrounding Voyager had not yet begun to slow down. Would media be willing to listen again so soon? Royal Caribbean decided to bring Explorer to New York to continue the momentum that was created by Voyager. Dwarfing the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building and the Intrepid, Explorer was indeed the largest ship ever to come to New York. With new features such as the first-ever working oceanic and atmospheric laboratories on a cruise ship and innovations that included a rock climbing wall and ice skating rink, Explorer was going to take cruising to another level altogether.
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES & GOALS:
Highlight Explorer’s size in context with famous New York City landmarks, thus creating fun news anecdotes for the media capital of the world.
Showcase cruise industry ownership of rock climbing, ice skating, basketball, in-line skating while differentiating ship from Voyager, its “twin,” by showcasing new design features, décor and itinerary differences.
Provide an exclusive television opportunity to the national network that generated the least coverage of Explorer’s twin ship in 1999.
Target non-travel media vehicles such as sports, lifestyle and entertainment media to widen cruising appeal and break down misperceptions (midnight buffets and shuffleboard). Focus on active amenities, nightlife and entertainment to tap new cruise audiences.
Position Explorer’s arrival in New York as the ideal opportunity for major networks to utilize the NY arrival as a scout or immediate location for live or taped broadcasts.
Generate buzz for the unprecedented partnership with the University of Miami Rosensteil School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and affiliation with NOAA. Explorer of the Seas was going to be the first permanent at sea laboratories that would continually monitor and record air and water for UV and solar radiation, pollution and weather systems.
PLANNING / EXECUTION:
August 2000 “Explorer of the Piers,” pre-launch event.
Designed to create media interest about Explorer and differentiate the ship from Voyager prior to its New York arrival.
At the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex, Royal Caribbean top executives informed both consumer and trade media about the unprecedented atmospheric and oceanic labs as well as delivered breaking news that the ship’s godmother was Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Gave media the opportunity to rock climb and view an ice show featuring professional skaters from the ship, experiencing first-hand some of what the ship has to offer.
August to September 2000
“Save the Date” postcard campaign, a “blueprint” of the ship, focused on Explorer’s new laboratory features. Campaign targeted non-traditional/lifestyle media (ie. not travel or cruise) including adventure, fitness, health, golf, sports, e-zines, ethnic, new age and gen-X publications.
Invitations to two-night preview cruise in New York aboard Explorer sent to top tier traditional and non-traditional media.
Invitations to top market meteorologists as a news hook to broadcast live from the ship and utilize the labs.
September to October 2000
Presented CBS Early Show with exclusive opportunity to broadcast live from the ship’s Royal Promenade (shopping and entertainment boulevard), sports deck and ice skating rink and offered first interviews with Royal Caribbean President, Jack Williams.
Targeted popular E! Entertainment network to reach RCI’s 24-54 active target market. Secured two of E!’s highest rated shows FYE! and Wild On to produce shows on Explorer.
October 2000 Arrival
Wire and B-Roll feeds distributed nationally to top media and news feeds.
Satellite media tour from ship with SVP, cruise director and top lab research scientist.
Royal Caribbean customized a two-night media “preview” cruise out of New York for top editors, reporters and producers.
Ship was open while in port to qualified media who were unable to accept complimentary trips (i.e. New York Times, Condé Nast Traveler, ABC-TV).
Live and taped location shoots.
CBS Early Show featured four segments totaling 9-minutes of national coverage aired live from the ship.
Weather personality Mark McEwen filmed segments from The Bridge with the ship’s captain, interviewed Royal Caribbean President Jack Williams on the ship’s Royal Promenade entertainment boulevard and ice skating rink as well as shot a segment on the Sports Deck that featured the golf course, basketball court and rock climbing wall.
E! ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK broadcast a 14-minute segment on FYE!
Showcased virtually all of Explorer’s key amenities including the rock climbing wall, ice skating rink, Royal Promenade golf course, in-line skating track, pool and dance club. First quarter 2001 E! will air a half-hour Wild on H2O highlighting Explorer’s amenities and entertainment hot spots.
SATELLITE MEDIA TOUR/ B-ROLL PACKAGE included interviews with the Sr. VP of Marketing, cruise director and top lab research scientist. Message points and visual of rock wall, basketball court, golf course and ice rink were viewed by millions of consumers.
- FOX Newsfeed and CBS Newspath fed nationally to all CBS and FOX affiliates
- KNBC Los Angeles, ABC Tampa, CBS Lafayette, UPN Sacramento, News 12 Norwalk, CBS Richmond, WAMI Miami, FOX Miami, FOX Indianapolis, ABC New York, FOX Washington, CBS New York, FOX Kansas City, CBS Lafayette and FOX Louisville, WTTE Columbus, KTVI St. Louis, WOFL Orlando, KSAZ Phoenix and WJW Cleveland.
- FOX Baltimore (WBBF-TV) meteorologist segments live from the science lab.
- Telemundo, News 51- Hialeah, Florida meteorologist segments live from the Royal Promenade.
PREVIEW CRUISE enabled print and broadcast media to visit ship and experience Explorer first-hand.
Hosted 150 media for preview cruise and site inspections. Site visitors included Entertainment Tonight, Live With Regis, Sports Illustrated for Women, Talk Magazine, Men’s Health, Jane, MTV Network, Latina Style, MetroSports, Vibe, Popular Mechanics, Wall Street Journal, Ebony. Coverage has included the Daily News, The Boston Herald, WCBS, WABC, NY1, Fox NY and USA Today.
The New York Times toured the ship and assigned a writer and then photographer to travel anonymously on Explorer shortly after. Article is confirmed for publication in February 2001.
Dozens of requests have come in from meteorologists across the U.S. to broadcast live from Explorer and the atmospheric lab in 2001.
Explorer of the Seas is sold out through the end of 2000 and though early 2001 and stock price has been rising steadily since the October 2000 launch.