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Royal Caribbean’s ‘Allure of the Seas’ Lives Up to Its Name with Irresistible Co-Branding

There’s been a lot of talk around here lately about mergers and brands getting friendly with each other. I have also seen this phenomenon in action recently! I just had the pleasure of taking an inaugural cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s new beauty, Allure of the Seas. While on board, I got a sneak peak of what excited cruise-goers will experience as the largest ship in the world sets sail in December. While everything on the ship was nothing short of amazing, one aspect which left me very wowed was the on board ‘brand experience’ available to the passengers. Put a little less fancily – the ship boasted many brand-name restaurants, shops and even entertainment productions, which was something I’d never seen on a cruise ship before.

It seems that Royal Caribbean is ahead of the co-branding trend as it acts as host to some of consumers’ favorite brands.

Starbucks at sea!

Starbucks at sea! (Click the picture to enlarge view)

Day 1: I boarded the ship wide eyed and excited. While I would have been content enough with being out of the cold Chicago climate and into the warm Caribbean sun, I suddenly became even more excited. Why? Starbucks. That’s right: Starbucks had a front-and-center location on the Allure’s main stretch, the Boardwalk.

I’m a die-hard Starbucks fan and therefore am well versed in the thousands of locations the chain has on almost every street corner, but Starbucks at sea? I never saw that one coming! It turns out I wasn’t the only passenger on board who was delighted with Starbucks’ presence, because no matter the time of day Starbucks was always a hot spot and usually had a line to wait in – proof that people still want their Peppermint Mocha Latte even while on a cruise!

Check out that view!

I didn’t get any pictures of Johnny Rockets, but check out that view! (Click the picture to enlarge view)

Day 2: One of the greatest parts of the Allure is the vast array of food choices. Gone are the days that a cruise equals buffet-style dining halls. The Allure of the Seas has around 24 options for hungry passengers, not to mention an additional 12 or so bars located around every corner of the ship. The choices range from Cupcake Cupboard to a Boardwalk Dog House and even a Brazilian Chop House!

The choices for food were endless and it was a tough decision, but guess where I ended up? At the branded restaurant, Johnny Rockets. Despite all of the great dining options on the ship, Johnny Rockets had a continuous stream of guests. Maybe because of the great food or maybe because of the central location on the main deck, but my guess is because of the recognizable name. People know Johnny Rockets and the diner-style American staple food (cheeseburgers, fries, milkshakes) the establishment is known for. This was co-branding at its finest and was definitely reflected in the 45 minute wait I endured for lunch!

 

Do you see the Guess store on the left?

Do you see the Guess store on the left? (Click the picture to enlarge view)

Day 3: The final day of paradise brought yet another brand experience to my fingertips. I had already explored a good portion of the ship but had yet to do one of my favorite things – shopping. So off I went to the main boardwalk area of the ship. The Allure played host to about 20 different stores on board so I could even take a break from the sun and get my shopping fix in.

To my surprise, brand name stores were also on board. Everything from Guess ® to BRITTO Art Gallery to Coach ® was at my fingertips. Though I was tempted to purchase the leather bag from Coach that I’ve had my eye on for quite some time, I refrained from the temptation but indulged in the opportunity to window shop on an excellent “mall at sea.” After my shopping escapade I made my way to the ship’s ice arena – (yes, you read that correctly) to watch the ice show “How to Train Your Dragon,” a DreamWorks Entertainment production. In addition to the ice show, characters from DreamWorks’ hit film “Madagascar” were everywhere on board. They played an integral role in the aqua show and even mingled with guests on the ship!

So, what’s the lesson to be learned from my Allure of the Seas cruise? Co-branding is everywhere, even miles out from land in the middle of the ocean! Aside from all the examples I already mentioned, Allure of the Seas also offers CHICAGO: The Musical in their Amber Theatre to really make the co-branding experience complete for its guests. Brandweek.com actually picked up on the unique branding efforts done by Royal Caribbean and noted its impressive efforts to allure customers on board. While these on-board brand names aren’t expected to be a deciding factor for consumers when choosing which ship to cruise on, the brands are expected to “entice passengers to spend more money while on board.”

Have you traveled the ocean blue on the Allure of the Seas? What do you think of these incredible co-branding efforts? We can’t wait to read your comments!



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Comments

  1. Chase

    I could not be on a boat for a long time. It would mess me up!

  2. Scooby DOO!

    Can you take me on your next adventure? I know Ian would fit into a suitcase, but maybe I could just carry yours! HA! Looks like a sweet time!! What would be REALLY interesting to see is how the business arrangement works between say, GUESS and Royal Caribbean. Do they pay rent? Do they own the space? Do they pay commissions? Do the employees work for RC or Guess, and who pays for their room and board? Things that make you go hmmmm…..

  3. QLP Jill

    WOW. This ship looks absolutely incredible! You’re so lucky…I wish I could be in the Caribbean this time of year instead of braving the chills and frost in Chicago! It seems like Royal Caribbean is trying to deliver a “make yourself at home” experience to vacationers, which isn’t a bad thing at all. By putting familiar brands on the ship, they’re helping people associate their cruise line with the things they know and love. Good plan. These co-branding efforts go above and beyond anything I’ve seen on a cruise line before – and I can’t believe they had an ice rink! :)

  4. GBDUDE

    Great Post!

    And yeah, take me on your next cruise, PLEASE!

  5. Cybernetic SAM

    I have always wanted to go on a cruise, it seems like it would be pretty amazing, an Alaskan cruise would be even better! I would just be afraid that all this stuff would distract me from realizing that I am on vacation on a boat? By that I mean you go somewhere like this to escape the high traffic malls etc… Little Starbucks and eateries, and the ice rink are awesome to have and very useful, but on a cruise ship one doesn’t really need chain stores such as Guess, and Coach especially in the Caribbean! If I go somewhere give me culture other than my own! I understand in order to have a cruise line such things are necessary to have money, but it is just frustrating to me to see everything on a boat in the middle of the ocean, when I can literally see these place every day. Good post!

    ahh que sera sera….

  6. Kyle

    I’ve never been on a cruise before so I never realized how much co-branding is involved. And Starbucks too? Haha great post. Keep ‘em coming.

  7. JJ "Suite G"

    That must have been a fantastic voyage to say the least!

    Starbucks on the high seas? ‘Tis a brave new world of commerce. It makes sense, I guess. They’re on the corner of every other city block these days, so they might as well be nautical too. They’ll undoubtedly be one of the first major brands on the moon once we’ve got that puppy terraformed and colonized. They’ll probably set up shop right next to Wal-Mart and Taco Bell.

    All kidding aside though, I do love Starbucks!

  8. Bret Bonnet

    I’m generally NOT a big fan of cruise ships – granted I’ve only ever sailed with Carnival Cruise Lines before (what can I say!; I was a poor college kid), but this ship looks AMAZING.

    I definitely think I could convince my wife to go on a cruise like this… it looks NICE. I scanned for some more photos online and the state rooms are UNREAL. Everything on this ship it top notch!

    I guess my BIG question is… or at least from my own experience… people go on cruises because they are for the most part “all inclusive”. Something tells me this is NOT the case with the Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas… I’m sure the Starbucks was not included, and if anything INFLATED since you’re purchasing it while in the sea… Think airport food!

    But what about the 24 restaurants? Were you forking over cash each and every time you sat down to eat? If so… this is probably WHY Johnny Rockets was the busiest… it probably was the most reasonably priced! :)

    I’d be curious as to how comparable the shopping and these stores are to the “real thing”. I mean was it like a closet with two Coach purses in it or was it a FULL SIZED store?

    Other than that… the entertainment sounded top notch! There is nothing worse than being stuck at sea and your only options are eating, eating, MORE eating – and oh; of course the casino! :)

    I’ll be waiting for my invitation in the mail Shannon the next time you sail!

  9. POS Paper

    i’ve never been on a cruise. This sounds like a great trip though.

  10. frost

    Hey there, you have done a great job on this article. I will certainly Digg it and personally suggest to my friends who are thinking of going on a cruise!

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