There is a strong desire amongst the readers of this blog and the followers of our live chats to know more about our deployment planning process, i.e., where we choose to put the ships. We want to respond to this desire but we need to balance it against the competitive and legal framework that applies to this critical subject. In an upcoming guest blog entry, I will ask Diana Block, VP, Revenue Performance & Deployment, and Chris Allen, Director, Deployment & Itinerary Planning to comment in more detail.
Because most readers live in the United States, most of the expressed commentary is in the form of questions about why we don’t have more or longer programs around the U.S. Our readers are frequently asking about more cruises from Galveston, New Orleans, Tampa, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Hawaii, Jacksonville, Mobile, etc.
This interest reflects a significant shift in U.S. consumer preference over the last 15 years. While a lot of our guests still get on a plane and fly to San Juan, South Florida, New York, Los Angeles or Seattle to board one of our ships, there are many cruisers who prefer to skip the flight and drive straight to a ship based much closer to where they live.
We offer cruises out of many homeports around the U.S. either year-round or seasonally. However, this important trend towards “homeporting” inevitably bumps into another very significant trend of the last 15 years – the whole world is catching on to cruising and there is demand for our cruises globally. This conflict between two important market preferences is exacerbated in the northern summer by the seasonal attractions of Alaska, Bermuda and Europe.
In the end, we have 22 ships (including Oasis of the Seas and Allure of Seas) to deploy and hard choices to make every year. We are very cognizant of Texans who want to cruise year-round from Galveston as well as Spanish who want us to offer summer programs out of Malaga, and many others as well. We are constantly monitoring guest satisfaction, operational experience, revenue performance, fuel and other costs, consumer research, customer commentary and strategic opportunity to determine what the right deployment of our 22 ships should be. I look forward to your comments on this compelling subject.