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Royal Caribbean International and DreamWorks Strategic Alliance

Written by: David Beers

With the announcement that Royal Caribbean International and DreamWorks Animation have formed a strategic alliance, the cruise line is taking things to a new level when it comes to seagoing animated characters. Guests will experience a variety of shows and activities, and these will include more than just photo ops and mingling with the characters. The alliance will debut onboard Allure of the Seas when the ship debuts in December 2010. Characters from some of the studio’s most popular feature films – “Shrek,” “Madagascar,” “Kung Fu Panda” and “How to Train Your Dragon” – will be featured in many venues.

As I noted above, this new program is more than simply having performers in costumes. The plan will also involve interactive meals in the main dining room as well as new activities and themes being integrated into the Adventure Ocean youth program. Offerings aboard the Allure will include an exclusive ice show with characters from the hit movie “How To Train Your Dragon”.

DreamWorks characters will also be featured in a water show at the innovative AquaTheater. Last month Royal Caribbean announced plans to install 3D movie equipment on the Oasis, Allure, Liberty, and Freedom. While that was a bombshell by itself, the story is complete since we know now the 3D offerings will include first run and previously released films from DreamWorks.

Additionally, a stateroom TV channel will be dedicated to DreamWorks programming. Although some might think this alliance is a response to Norwegian Cruise Line’s recent addition of Nickelodeon to its ships that is not the case. According to DreamWorks Animation co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, it started approximately a year ago when he was introduced to Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain.

After several months of discussions and planning, Mr. Katzenberg and his creative team boarded the Oasis Of The Seas on its maiden voyage. They evaluated the logistics and put things in motion. The level of excitement displayed by the ship’s staff surprised the management of both Royal Caribbean and DreamWorks.

When DreamWorks offered an exclusive event for the crew the line stretched from the theater entrance and down the length of the ship. This gave credence to their hopes to make the new alliance appeal to all ages and all nationalities. Given the broad based popularity the cruise line made the decision to include all these new activities in the basic price of the cruise. According to Royal Caribbean International CEO Adam Goldstein, there are no extra charges. This also is a strategic choice since the company wants to expand its base of cruising families, which according to Mr. Goldstein is currently 33% of it’s customers. They also want to build their customer base from outside North America, which is currently 30%. Given that 60 to 65% of DreamWorks box office is outside of North America, their ability to help Royal Caribbean achieve its goals is obvious.

“Royal Caribbean and DreamWorks Animation share many of the same philosophies when it comes to high-quality family entertainment, so there is quite a lot of synergy going into this strategic alliance,” said Mr. Goldstein. “We are constantly striving to offer dynamic and engaging programming onboard our ships and couldn’t think of a better brand to help take it to the next level.”

“Royal Caribbean is a world-class leader in the cruise ship industry who excels at continually finding innovative ways to raise the bar in providing family entertainment at sea,” said Mr. Katzenberg. “We look forward to working with them to incorporate Animation characters and storytelling throughout the entire cruise experience.” The activities will expand to the Liberty Of The Seas in January 2011, the Oasis Of The Seas in February 2011, and finally the Freedom Of The Seas in March 2011.

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