As more families have signed up to enjoy the multi-generational vacation experience, cruise ship businesses are taking note. Cruise ship operators have begun to expand their family-friendly programs and facilities. And now they’re gearing up to promote their teen nightclubs and grade school adventure programs directly to their target markets.
This news comes as research shows the power children have during the decision-making process that leads to a family vacation. Over half of parents say that their children’s opinions influence the type of vacation the family takes, according to GfK Mediamark Research and Intelligence. And a survey produced by Ypartnership on behalf of Disney Cruise Line points to an even higher influence rate on the part of children. Up to 70% of children are involved in deciding what the family will do on vacation and where the family will go.
Cruise lines are realizing they can expand their demographic reach by selling programs designed specifically for kids. In a recent Travel Weekly article, Donna Tunney noted that brands are promoting activities that target specific niches. For example, kids between the ages of 3–10 can join the Oceaneer Club while at sea and teens may find the Chill Spa appealing. At Holland America, kids from ages 3 to 7 can choose between Club Hal and HAL Kids Culinary Workshops.
While the cruise lines are marketing their kid-friendly programs, travel agents are doing their part ,too. Vicky Garcia, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cruise Planners says "We teach classes to our franchisees every several weeks, and we always put a big emphasis on the fact that kids can sell the idea of a cruise vacation to the rest of the family.”
Not surprisingly, Disney is currently the industry leader serving the kiddie cruise market. But Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean are also competitors. As the idea of multi-generational cruises and on-board family reunions continues to grow, look for cruise ship operators to further develop and market their kids programs.[Sources: Motter, Paul. Kid, Young Couples, Married & Retired. FoxBusiness.com. 3 Jun. 2011. Web. 7 Jun. 2011; Tunney, Donna. Cruise lines vie to get message across. TravelWeekly.com. 24 May 2011. Web. 7 Jun. 2011]