NCL & SixthMan have just announced "Live Loud" Festival At Sea, on the NCL Pearl Feb 28th - Mar 2nd.
It is a full charter music cruise, but based upon extensive research and input it was designed by music fans, which in essence gives everyone a sneak peek into the future of cruising by changing the paradigms
The focus is on the custom onboard and private island experience (not on the ports of call and excursions)..they can feature different musical styles focusing on up and coming artists with regional fan bases and utilize social media to sell out the ships...the traditional onboard cruising trappings (formal nights, broadway shows etc) no longer apply
The template is being fine tuned that will allow NCL to take the "freestyle cruising" concept to another level on one or two of it's ships, while maintaining the "traditional freestyle experience on the balance of it's fleet...NCL could go after almost any segment of the vacation population based upon their hobby or passion, survey you to gain your input to what you would like your onboard experience to reflect, then design it for you...I would suspect at least one of the next generations vessels will be designed for this concept in mind (no more main showrooms or massive MDR)...
I give NCL & SixthMan kudos for thinking outside the box...the question is when (not if) others follow their path
At first I thought it was odd to leave on a Wednesday (26th) and return on a Sunday (2nd)..but then I remembered for the Kid Rock charter they introduced an option package ($$$$$$) of being able to board on Tuesday evening, go out to the 3 mile limit, open the casinos, bars and party, come back the next day at noon and pick up the balance of the cruisers...thus they were able to capture traditional pre cruise revenue (hotel,food,bars) and open rooms for the hotel's normal corporate midweek business..that's the beginning of changing the dynamics of the traditional "turnaround day"
Major productions in the main showroom,2 hour dinners in the MDR , traditional island tours, and island shopping excursions (thanks to the internet) does not have the same appeal to todays younger cruising generation as they do the traditional cruisers...private island beach times, activities and entertainment geared to their sensory nerve center, is what will fill the ship...thanks to today's social media networking, a 2200 psgr ship can sell out in 72 hours or less for a music charter and an artist loyal fan base will return year after year and not flinch to pay a premium surcharge...it would probably shock traditional cruisers to know how many elite status cruise loyalty program members will be coming from the NCL/SixthMan charter cruises in the next year ot two
I've been cruising since 1974...it was always the guest subscribing to what the cruiselines dictated (much like the Detroit auto industry)...NCL has been an industry leader in changing the dynamics...usually we fill out a post cruise survey about our cruise...it was very nice for a change to be asked by SixthMan/NCL for input in the front end of the process...I am a jazz guy, never been on a NCL/SixthMan music charter...if they do a jazz one in the future, I would do it
Norwegian has definitely 'assigned' the Pearl to be an almost full-time music charter ship. I was looking at the music charter cruises a few weeks ago and it seemed 80% of them were aboard Norwegian Pearl. Of course that is a perception and not actual. I've been on both the Rock Legends cruises with Paul and they really are great cruises. I'd like to go on a Blues or Jazz cruise.
Dave...your "perception" is pretty much reality...NCL/Sixthman has been very active in the pursuit of "alternative" music cruises...HAL in partnership with ECP has most of the Jazz related cruises tied up (as well as the Legendary Blues Cruise that my buddy Irma Thomas plays on) contractually....Royal Caribbean has dibs on the Legendary Rock Cruises as well as Dave Koz and Friends and Carnival has the Capital Jazz SuperCruise, Tom Joyner's Fantastic Voyage and Festival At Sea onboard
What makes the NCL/Sixthman deal awesome is that NCL cut out the "middleman " (promoter) in the formula, designated one ship (Pearl) which by taking cabins out of fleet inventory, raises occupany rates on remaining ships for that week, which means they don't have to discount as much
NCL is rewriting the book on full charters by creating markets that 5 years ago no one had ever thought of music or cruise wise...by making their charter cruises 5 instead of 7 days they have the option of doing pre/post revenue capturing opportunities or alternate with longer regular sailings...I suspect that due to synergy of cross utilizing musicial acts from their charters on regular sailings the onboard entertainment offerings on their regular sailings will be very different then what we see today...I happen to be reading Cruise Travel Magazine today and the NCL Breakaway is designed to be very condusive for music charters..someone at NCL is really thinking
The demographics of cruising is changing..the full charter music theme cruises (as well as other full charters) are the gateway for cruise lines to impact this change for the next generation of cruisers..unlike a regular sailing, you don't have to try to please a wide variety of cruiser expectations (which is almost impossible) it's much easier to please folks who have one passion in common
Dave, life is too short..do the Blues Cruise next year (if it%s not already sold out)..take Paul with you so he can learn how to sing and dance to Zydeco Music and eat crawfish and alligator hushpuppies