Carnival Cruise Lines Sets Sail with Live Nation

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Leisure travel may have taken a hit during the recent recession, but that hasn’t stopped cruise lines from building bigger, more extravagant ships. Carnival Cruise Lines just debuted its new European cruise ship, Carnival Magic, and is taking 2012 reservations for its new Carnival Breeze. Competitor Royal Caribbean has recently updated three ships and two more will be “newly enhanced” by the end of this year.

It used to be that ships were all about sailing to a few ports and non-stop eating along the way, but today’s cruising involves an almost bewildering array of on-board experiences.[more]

Carnival, for example, offers everything from waterslides, golf and giant-screen movies outside to spas, casinos, shows and clubs inside.

Carnival (tagline: “Fun for All. All for Fun.”) put its focus on a younger cruising crowd with its recent “Didja Ever” campaign, above, which asks Americans what they’ve always wanted to do for the first time. The campaign ties into the idea of taking a cruise for the first time — something Carnival would like more people to do. On Carnival’s Facebook page, consumers can “make a list of the things you want to do, share it with friends and enter to win a cruise.”

Now, Carnival is moving outside more traditional travel advertising venues through a bold marketing alliance with Live Nation, which operates Live Nation Concerts and sells tickets through its Ticketmaster.com subsidiary.

The cruise line will be the Official Concert Series Sponsor at four Live Nation amphitheater concert venues, all of which are within a short drive of a year-round Carnival homeport (Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood in Atlanta, GA, Superpages.com Center in Dallas, TX, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Houston, TX, and Jiffy Lube Live in Washington, DC). Carnival will also be the Official Cruise Line category sponsor at Live Nation’s Susquehanna Bank Center amphitheater in Philadelphia.

Carnival branding will prominently appear on tickets and ads promoting Carnival’s “Rock The Deck” Concert Series and there will be pre-show entertainment gatherings called “Carnival Sailgate Parties.” There will be Carnival-reserved VIP seating areas for fans, and photos capturing concert-goers enjoying the pre-show festivities will be made available on Carnival’s Facebook page after the events. Fans will have the opportunity to fulfill lifetime dreams, such as attending a sound check with a top-performing artist, or meeting a band prior to a show.

Jim Berra, CMO for Carnival Cruise Lines, said the alliance gives Carnival the chance to “create new and exciting experiences well-aligned with our brand that showcase the essence of a Carnival cruise vacation to an audience of loyal fans and those we invite to sail with Carnival for the first time.

In the end, of course, it’s all about getting more cruise bookings to keep those giant ships at or near capacity — that’s why Royal Caribbean has expanded its marketing efforts into branded entertainment and short films (not to give James Brolin and Jenny McCarthy a stint in the director’s chair). And that’s why Carnival is charting new waters with the Live Nation relationship.

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