Posted by: cruise2 | 17 May, 2016

Twenty-Five Years Of Cruise Line Branding

by Kevin Griffin writing for


For information and reservations on any of these cruises contact

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Telephone 647-299-7447

In March, Skift Travel News carried a story headed “Cruise Lines are in the Middle of a Branding Evolution,” talking about a new logo at Holland America Line, a new tag line “Feel Free” at Norwegian Cruise Line, a modified tag line “Modern Luxury Lives Here” at Celebrity and a lighter shade of blue at MSC Cruises.

Holland America Line: the new (above) and the old logo

Holland America Line: the new (above) and the old logo

In many cases, these small changes took a year of research and reconsidering their position. And most of these rebranding efforts have come with hefty advertising budgets.

This kind of activity has been ramping up recently as more ships are delivered and cruise lines try to differentiate their product from everyone else’s, although how buying another private island in the Bahamas, as MSC is doing, begs the question of how this might be differentiating.

But what of the so-called brands themselves?
There once was a time, pre-conglomerates, when lines each had its own identity, partly based on the nationality of its crew. These identities were not generally called brands at the time.

Then Carnival Cruise Lines, until then using the tag line “The Fun Ships,” bought the more sober Holland America Line in 1989 and two new cruise lines, Celebrity Cruises and Crystal Cruises, were formed the following year.

Celebrity Cruises: 'Modern Luxury Lives Here'

Celebrity Cruises: ‘Modern Luxury Lives Here’

In 1993, Carnival Corporation became the parent company of both Carnival Cruise Lined and Holland America Line.

Rather than a neutral holding company name such as the International Mercantile Marine name used by J P Morgan 100 years ago or say Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company adopted one of the line’s brand names as the holding company name too, a move that has created much confusion ever since.

Not to be outdone, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line bought Celebrity Cruises from the Chandris family in 1997 but decided to retain the brand on which a lot of money had been spent to pitch it a level above the others.

Silversea Expeditions

Silversea Expeditions

In so doing, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd became the holding company while the cruise ship brand was renamed Royal Caribbean International. Many at the time thought this had been done the wrong way round and that the International should have been adopted by the holding company, something that has been proven since with this group’s expansion into Spain, Germany, the UK, Australasia and now China.

In 2003, with the merger of Carnival Corp and P&O Princess Cruises plc, the new holding company became Carnival Corp & plc, in a dual listing in the US and the UK, where the company became a Public Limited Company.

Crystal Cruises was not the first to have its own plane! This aircraft was used for all-inclusive cruises from Canada

Crystal Cruises was not the first to have its own plane! This aircraft was used for all-inclusive cruises from Canada

The old P&O Princess group was split up, with Carnival taking over the commercial operation of Princess Cruises in exchange for ceding Cunard’s management to P&O Cruises. At the same time, the new Southampton-based P&O and Cunard grouping took on the name Carnival UK.

Some time after Carnival UK followed the Costa Cruises Group, with head office and ships, including those operated by its German arm AIDA Cruises, all registered in Genoa. In more recent times, Costa Asia has been added as a third member of this group, and Costa have set up a ship management company in Hamburg under the name Carnival Maritime.

In North America, meanwhile and much more recently, a third grouping was formed when Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and P&O Australia all became part of the Seattle-based Holland America Group.

Crystal Luxury Air To Take To The Skies With A Boeing 777

Crystal Luxury Air To Take To The Skies With A Boeing 777

And this year alone, we have had Crystal Cruises turn into a whole series of brands, with Crystal Cruises adding Crystal River Cruises, Crystal Yacht Cruises and Crystal Luxury Air to its menagerie.

A few years earlier Silversea Cruises had expanded into a sub-brand, Silversea Expeditions, while at the other extreme, Compagnie des Iles du Ponant became Compagnie du Ponant, then just Ponant and, more recently, Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions. While one sometimes senses uncertainty, ownership changes have occurred as well.

Crystal River Cruises

Crystal River Cruises

The whole new concept of ultra-luxury expeditions, originally brought about by Silversea and now being implemented by Seabourn, Crystal, and now Regent, begs another question. How does roughing it by camping ashore in the Antarctic go with the ultra-lux shipboard experience offered by these lines? This would seem to be the ultimate mix of camp and castle.
Don’t forget to remove your tiara before climbing into that sleeping bag!

Eight years before Carnival, Yarmouth Cruise Lines was using 'The Fun Ships' as a brand for its sister ships Yarmouth and Yarmouth Castle, running from Miami to Nassau. Carnival later purloined the strap line as its own

Eight years before Carnival, Yarmouth Cruise Lines was using ‘The Fun Ships’ as a brand for its sister ships Yarmouth and Yarmouth Castle, running from Miami to Nassau. Carnival later purloined the strap line as its own

Finally, Windstar, which now has three “Wind” tall ships and three“Star” mega yachts with the addition of the original Seabourn trio, makes do with just Windstar Cruises – one brand for two products.

Equally, a company such as Viking River Cruises, now that it has expanded into ocean cruising, has Viking Ocean Cruises and Viking Cruises as well – three brands for two products.

And now, every press release from a Carnival company, whichever brand, whether it be Fathom going to Cuba or christening the AIDAprima in Hamburg, seems to stem from Carnival Corp & plc. This actually reduces each brand’s differentiation and probably just serves to confuse the public.
But is a holding company a brand? Even though Carnival Corp & plc ended up taking most of the wrap for the loss of the Costa Concordia, we don’t think so.

And this is only the beginning. With the American craze to partnerships and brand association we now have a whole welter of on board brands such as Bulgari, Elemis, L’Occitane en Provence, Hermès and Swarovski, to name just a few, all looking for space in spas and on shelves and as bathroom amenities.

So, now, here is your quiz: who is Carnival Corp & plc and how does it relate to Carnival Maritime; and who is Carnival UK, and how does it relate to Carnival Cruise Line (as the original “Fun Ship” brand has now been renamed in the singular)?


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