In what may be the most expensive cruise product enrichment program to date, Sitmar Cruises is offering a $1-million game show giveaway and an unprecedented schedule of big name entertainment on its September through March cruises. The inception of the six-million dollar program coincides with Sitmar is withdrawal from the discount market and represents the line's attempt to further broaden the appeal of cruising, according to Scott Hannan, Sitmar is vice president of marketing.
"In order to at tract new passengers, the industry must focus on the value added side of cruising, which means we either can discount the cruises or enrich them," Hannan said. "Sitmar has chosen to enrich them because we do not believe that the prospect of saving $250 will encourage someone to take a cruise if he has never taken one before. "
"Our new program, Sitmar Showtime Cruises, is a total entertainment package that markets the excitement of cruising in a concrete fashion. It tells you everything the cruise will offer, and provides very definite and motivating reasons for taking it," Hannan added.
Although much more costly than discount promotions, Hannan said that product enrichment is "an investment in product delivery" - the key, he believes, to establishing a repeat clientele.
"It is the type of investment that will pay big dividends because we're creating a product that will encourage first-timers to return," Hannan said.
According to Hannan, by enriching its cruise product, Sitmar can offer an increasingly better cruise to experienced passengers, who account for approximately 70% of the line is business. He also said that, in order to further accommodate this market, the line will feature only mid-length cruises in 1986.
"Experienced passengers want longer cruises and more days at sea, so we have eliminated our seven-day sailings in 1986, and have decided to offer only eight to 12-day itineraries next year," Hannan explained.
The other significant change for 1986 is the repositioning of Fairsky from Los Angeles to Port Everglades, for a series of eight and 10-day Caribbean cruises, scheduled to begin October 9, 1986 - a move Hannan said was made to better expose the ship to cruise passengers and agents on the East Coast.
As for Sitmar's plans to build two new ships, Hannan said the line still is negotiating with several shipyards, and expects to announce a decision next year.
Will the line expand into new markets?
"Definitely," Hannan said, but could not yet elaborate further.