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I came across (I can’t remember where) the results of a survey by Fred Olsen about what their passengers consider important when booking a cruise. The survey was of Fred Olsen passengers, interviewed after their cruise.

Here’s the list:

  • Itinerary / Destination – 39%
  • Low Price – 16%
  • Departure Port – 15%
  • Convenient Departure Date – 13%
  • Onboard Facilities – 7%
  • Onboard Entertainment – 5%
  • Short Cruise Duration – 5%
honfleur_inner_harbour

Honfleur inner harbour Sep 2007

My first thought was that this was very interesting, but I’m beginning to wonder.  This is a survey into a population who have already chosen to cruise specifically with Fred Olsen at least once (though possibly with other lines as well), and in the recent past at that. So it’s not too surprising that they would consider Onboard Facilities and Onboard Entertainment as low in importance – as past passengers of Fred Olsen they’ve already chosen at least one cruise in which these factors were very limited, and were presumably happy with their choice. I could think of similar questions about some of the other results. For example, the Short Cruise Duration also isn’t too surprising, given that many Fred Olsen cruises are quite lengthy and a high proportion of their passengers are retired and thus not bothered about cruise duration (except from a budgetary point of view, of course).

I also wonder how Fred Olsen executives feel about ‘Departure Port’ only getting a 15% response as an important factor. Fred Olsen make a big thing of the number of regional ports they use as embarkation ports – the press release that accompanied these survey results said that they sail from ten regional ports (Southampton, Dover, Harwich, Tilbury, Avonmouth,Liverpool, Newcastle, Rosyth, Greenock and Belfast).  Being picky once again, I’d suggest that as Southampton, Harwich and Dover are the UK’s main cruise ports, it’s only the other seven that count as regional ports. But nonetheless Fred Olsen do sail from them, and have been for a number of years, and I wonder if they might have hoped for a higher figure than 15% as a measure of the importance of regional ports to passengers when they choose a cruise.

But I’m probably being picky. Fred Olsen are doing a good job of turning possible disadvantages (they have a fleet of older, small ships) into advantages: they can use smaller regional ports in the UK and they can definitely cruise to smaller destination ports. Next year we’ll be visiting Seville on Azura, which actually means we’ll be berthing in Cadiz and getting a coach; Fred Olsen cruises, on the other hand, can get at least one of their ships up the Guadalquivir river and berth at the edge of Seville itself. Similarly, when P&O and Cunard refer to Rouen or Honfleur they mean Le Havre plus a coach ride, whereas Fred Olsen can get their ships up the Seine to Rouen itself – we did such a cruise a couple of winters ago. Similarly we berthed in Honfleur outer harbour a few years on Braemar (pre-stretch), which larger ships cannot do. So let’s not be critical of Fred Olsen – they have their strengths and they’re playing to them. More power to them.

BlackWatchBerthedRouen_1200

Black Watch berthed at Rouen

One Response to “The port's the thing…. maybe”

  1. Tom Said “So it’s not too surprising that they would consider Onboard Facilities and Onboard Entertainment as low in importance – as past passengers of Fred Olsen they’ve already chosen at least one cruise in which these factors were very limited, and were presumably happy with their choice”.

    I’ve cruised on all of the current Olsen fleet although I’m probably at least a decade younger than there average demographic.

    I don’t think that their facilities and entertainment is ‘limited’ as such.

    Their ships have the main facilities found on all ships, but of course the Spa and Gym, for example, are not so extensive. There is a show every night and a full range of day time activities. A smaller ship does not need multiple entertainment venues, numerous bars and multiple dining options.

    I think that the many low percentages in the survey may come from the question “what their passengers consider important when booking a cruise”.

    When I book Cruise itinerary, price, date and departure port are important. Entertainment is not important in my choice because I probably have little idea what form it is and how good it is.

    When I’m on-board the quality of entertainment is very important to me.

    Few cruise lines use entertainment as a selling point although, NCL are becoming an exception. Epic for example boasts the “Blue Man Group”, a branded show playing around the world.

    Malcolm

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