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Seriously - Time for Carnival to get into the Great Lakes market


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On 6/28/2021 at 9:50 AM, KmomChicago said:

Hint hint folks. If we all sound enthusiastic maybe the suits take notice. I wouldn’t even suggest this if I hadn’t already enjoyed many visits to these places during my lifetime.

 

Hi

 

It would seem you are hoping for a Carnival price tag with accompanying amenities for something that is currently being offered at 5-6 times the cost without the amenities. I agree with what has already been pointed out, that if it was feasible, it would have already been done. If you just want to see the U.S. port towns (or Canadian cities for that matter), a road trip would be more reasonable. 

 

 

 

 

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On 6/28/2021 at 10:55 AM, KmomChicago said:

 

I think my vision is too far from American as well, though, in the other direction. I want something family oriented, with rugrats all over the place. I realize it won't be Caribbean cheap, but I want it a lot more affordable than American Cruise Line.  

 

DH and I just disembarked an ACL cruise, Puget Sound RT Seattle. Don't get me wrong - we love the Great Lakes. DH was born in Cleveland and his first lakes voyage was on the last trip of the SS South American on the Cleveland-Detroit leg. And as you can see from my signature (which is in dire need of updating), we're Carnival veterans. However, our kids (13, 8 and 4 when we first sailed, now 30, 25 and 21) would have gone stir-crazy on this type of cruise. In our early 60's, we were among the youngest aboard. We loved our trip, but it's just not a family-oriented sailing.

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35 minutes ago, nybumpkin said:

DH and I just disembarked an ACL cruise, Puget Sound RT Seattle. Don't get me wrong - we love the Great Lakes. DH was born in Cleveland and his first lakes voyage was on the last trip of the SS South American on the Cleveland-Detroit leg. And as you can see from my signature (which is in dire need of updating), we're Carnival veterans. However, our kids (13, 8 and 4 when we first sailed, now 30, 25 and 21) would have gone stir-crazy on this type of cruise. In our early 60's, we were among the youngest aboard. We loved our trip, but it's just not a family-oriented sailing.


Exactly. It’s not just that ACL and those like it are too $$. The little ships, cute as they are, are not what we’d want at any price.

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58 minutes ago, KmomChicago said:


Exactly. It’s not just that ACL and those like it are too $$. The little ships, cute as they are, are not what we’d want at any price.

Sorry, but I just don't see the demand for families on the Great Lakes itineraries.

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Apparently it takes 11 hours to cruise the Welland Canal, which is all of 27 miles long. That adds a significant amount of time to go to anywhere noteworthy in Canada. This would be a five day itinerary from Cleveland:

 

Monday 16:00 Cleveland

Tuesday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Wednesday 08:00 16:00 Montréal

Thursday 12:00 23:59 Toronto

Friday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Saturday 08:00 Cleveland

 

This would then repeat Saturday-Thursday. The 4-day version would look like this:

 

Thursday 16:00 Cleveland

Friday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Saturday 08:00 20:00 Montréal (or Toronto)

Sunday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Monday 08:00 Cleveland

 

I suppose if you want a 7 day itinerary from Cleveland, you could realistically get up to Quebec City:

 

Saturday 16:00 Cleveland

Sunday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Monday Fun Day on the River

Tuesday 08:00 18:00 Quebec City

Wednesday 07:00 15:00 Montréal

Thursday 12:00 23:59 Toronto

Friday Cruising Lake Ontario/Welland Canal

Saturday 08:00 Cleveland

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On 6/28/2021 at 8:50 AM, crewsweeper said:

I think Viking and American Cruises do this already.  ChiTown, Detroit and the Mistake on the Lake, formerly known as Cleveland aren't my ideals of cruising towns.

 

lol. So edgy and original with your insult I must say.

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Not sure I understand the purpose of re-branding a bargain family cruise ship as a luxury cruise ship to do this itinerary when there are already luxury cruise lines doing it. I understand that those are too expensive but the logistics and economics of the mass market cruise line are to do large ships with lots of people at relatively low prices. Even if there is a market for creating one small ship to do one itinerary the question for them whether there is enough return on investment for that. I also notice that there are lots of people who live in Ohio, Michigan, and New York who are into it. I could see this appealing to a small demographic who can drive to the port and is willing to pay more for that; but can't see anyone else seeking out a pricey cruise to go to Cleveland.... When they can get a Bargain cruise that goes to the caribbean....

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On 6/28/2021 at 8:44 AM, KmomChicago said:

Hear me out, fellow passengers.  Post-pandemic, there just has GOT to be a seasonal market for Great Lakes cruises.  I know there are already several high end outfits doing this on rather smallish cute little mini cruise ships. This is not what I am talking about at all. 

 

I'm talking about a new, purpose-built, biggest that can get through the locks and canals, Carnival-branded, family oriented, amenity laden, modern vessel with a US and Canada itinerary. It seems with the endless and growing hassles of air travel, and the concerns coming out of our little minor recent public health issue, something out of, say, Cleveland or Toledo, would be able to attract enough passengers to fill up a warm-weather schedule.  

 

Seriously! I know talks come up on this topic from time to time but let's assume a hotshot designer could get enough passengers and stuff on a big, but small enough, ship to appeal to megaship aficionados to do closed loops of 3, 4, 5, 7, or 11 nights, for example from the American Midwest. What other barriers exist and how do we all convince John Heald's bosses to overcome them and  move forward?

PreCovid (maybe 2 summers ago) there was a Great Lakes Cruise that stopped in Cleveland. I remember seeing a story on the news. They interviewed passengers and the crew. It was interesting. 

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13 hours ago, tidecat said:

Apparently it takes 11 hours to cruise the Welland Canal, which is all of 27 miles long. That adds a significant amount of time to go to anywhere noteworthy in Canada. This would be a five day itinerary from Cleveland:

 

Monday 16:00 Cleveland

Tuesday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Wednesday 08:00 16:00 Montréal

Thursday 12:00 23:59 Toronto

Friday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Saturday 08:00 Cleveland

 

This would then repeat Saturday-Thursday. The 4-day version would look like this:

 

Thursday 16:00 Cleveland

Friday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Saturday 08:00 20:00 Montréal (or Toronto)

Sunday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Monday 08:00 Cleveland

 

I suppose if you want a 7 day itinerary from Cleveland, you could realistically get up to Quebec City:

 

Saturday 16:00 Cleveland

Sunday Cruising Welland Canal/Lake Ontario

Monday Fun Day on the River

Tuesday 08:00 18:00 Quebec City

Wednesday 07:00 15:00 Montréal

Thursday 12:00 23:59 Toronto

Friday Cruising Lake Ontario/Welland Canal

Saturday 08:00 Cleveland


I love these itineraries!

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I'd try it out! Being from WY it's expensive to get to ANY cruise port; it might actually be easier to get to the midwest.

 

We cruise for the itinerary and that doesn't necessarily mean beach and Caribbean all the time. In fact, once you've been to a few of those places they start to all seem the same....

 

We just got back from a road trip around Lake Michigan to pick up a new puppy and there were tons of places I'd like to explore:

MLB ballparks in multiple lake cities

Tons of stuff in Chicago

Sleeping Bear Dunes

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore

Ludington State Park

Probably tons of places I don't even know about

 

I don't think this would be a huge appeal to kids/families which would be okay with me ;-) I see this as being similar in interest as New England/Canada, Alaska or South America. Obviously not as exotic as some of those places, but possibly more affordable as a cruise 'teaser'. And a good way for people who are hesitant to try it out in a comfortable place.

 

Honestly who knows if it would ever be feasible. I don't think there is a serious suggestion here to rebrand Carnival into something different for this itinerary, I see this thread as throwing some fun brainstorming out there while we all wait until we can cruise again. Lighten up and maybe don't take everything so seriously!

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You know, there was a time when nobody thought Cancun, Roatan, or Costa Maya would ever be a place that had the infrastructure to accommodate cruisers.   While it might take awhile, the money generated by cruise lines in the Great Lakes would open the politicians and business entrepreneur's eyes.   There certainly is some hurdles, but if the cruise companies and cities follow the money trail, there is a pot of gold waiting for everyone.

 

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I live in Florida so pre Covid I could sail to islands at will  I can drive to the beach in 15 minutes. 
  I would think it would be cool to do a Great Lakes cruise. 
 It would be like European’s won’t cruise in Europe because they could drive or take a fast train. 

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3 hours ago, BTromboneFrack said:

You know, there was a time when nobody thought Cancun, Roatan, or Costa Maya would ever be a place that had the infrastructure to accommodate cruisers.   While it might take awhile, the money generated by cruise lines in the Great Lakes would open the politicians and business entrepreneur's eyes.   There certainly is some hurdles, but if the cruise companies and cities follow the money trail, there is a pot of gold waiting for everyone.

 

 

1 hour ago, Bases5 said:

I live in Florida so pre Covid I could sail to islands at will  I can drive to the beach in 15 minutes. 
  I would think it would be cool to do a Great Lakes cruise. 
 It would be like European’s won’t cruise in Europe because they could drive or take a fast train. 

 

Thank you both for these comments. The longer this thread / conversation continues, I find the objections more and more surprising.  The New England / Canada summer cruises to Halifax and Saint John do just fine. Those ships don't do that run all winter. It's seasonal.  There are a few cruises that run from Boston down the St. Lawrence to Quebec as well as the reverse direction. Also seasonal. Also not tropical. Also might seem counterintuitive to the passenger who only wants a tropical cruise or who thinks because you live in the northern US, you don't want to vacation in the northern US. 

 

As Bases says, probably some Europeans wouldn't take a river cruise, because the ports are right down the road. I would guess, however, other Europeans sail right along with us foreigners. Perhaps at first, some locals would say, "not interested." But others would say, "more for me." Kinda like anything. Some people like it and others don't.  If you start with a single ship and get it established, and get the word of mouth going, and get people thinking how nice it would be to skip the flights, it's really not all that outlandish a proposition.  

 

I remember watching a TV movie in 1976 about a cruise ship that sailed from Los Angeles to the Mexican Riviera. I was intrigued immediately and my mom told me it was a "dying industry." An offshoot of the old transatlantic ocean passage business model, cruise ships were making use of old ships catering to, well, old people.  Demand was dropping and it would all be gone soon. 

 

Then that movie was developed into a series, Princess Cruises became a very recognized brand, and meanwhile, some visionary decided he could market cruise vacations to a young, fun-loving audience. We didn't know Ted Arison had recently bought his second ship and would soon expand his business further, or that the cruise ship industry was about to explode in a rebirth whose growth we are all still witnessing.  Hmm. Growth. In order to grow you have to find new niches. Hmm.

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None of the mass-market cruise lines are about "niches", they are about appeal to the masses, hence the name.  The niches are relegated to the smaller lines, whether some are owned by parent corporations of the large lines (though most of those niches are merely being high end).  They seem to be growing quite well despite not finding new niches.

 

Yes, the Canada/New England cruises do well, and are seasonal, but they use ships that can be used in other markets, and are not limited by a restriction from only one potential market.  This means the asset does not sit idle in the off season, the way much of the Lakes shipping does.

 

As noted in some of the articles that you and others have linked, there is a potentially growing demand for Lakes cruises, but due to the logistics, it will be smaller ships, and smaller ships don't have the room to put all the "bells and whistles" of the mainline cruise ships (and still have any cabin space), so the market demographic changes.  The large lines know how to do business in their demographic, with their business model, and don't care to make a major investment in an untried market, with a business model they are not familiar with (everything from marketing to the economics of building and operating the ships), that could result in a massive loss for them.  Just look at NCL, with its US flag Hawaii operation.  I was part of the original team bringing the project on line, and NCL was very explicit in saying they had no idea how to operate a US flag cruise ship.  They jumped into the market, bringing three ships to the market in a couple of years, and ended up losing $174 million a year.

 

And, post pandemic, the cruise lines will be looking, over the next 2-3 year or longer, to tried and true methods of making money, to recapture the losses of the pandemic.  Given the losses they've experienced, and the cost of the newbuild orders they currently have, I don't see any of the major cruise lines expanding into new or niche markets for the next decade.

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On 6/28/2021 at 7:23 AM, sparks1093 said:

I would think it would be cost prohibitive to build a ship for this purpose that will only be used part of the year but personally I would rather cruise to islands than to US cities that I could visit on my own.

How big of a ship could get from Chicago to Quebec? If a reasonably sized cruise ship could navigate that, this is a GREAT idea. I live in Utah and I would totally fly to Chicago or wherever to take that cruise.  It could be repositioned to another market for the winter, as is done for Alaska and many other cruise routes. 

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21 minutes ago, zzdoug said:

How big of a ship could get from Chicago to Quebec? If a reasonably sized cruise ship could navigate that, this is a GREAT idea. I live in Utah and I would totally fly to Chicago or wherever to take that cruise.  It could be repositioned to another market for the winter, as is done for Alaska and many other cruise routes. 

I just googled info about the Welland canal.  Apparently, it's about 80 ft wide at it's narrowest.  So, check out your favourite cruise ship and see if it will fit.  I think it would have to be a small cruise ship.

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Posted (edited)
28 minutes ago, zzdoug said:

How big of a ship could get from Chicago to Quebec? If a reasonably sized cruise ship could navigate that, this is a GREAT idea. I live in Utah and I would totally fly to Chicago or wherever to take that cruise.  It could be repositioned to another market for the winter, as is done for Alaska and many other cruise routes. 

Following up on this, apparently the maximum length of a ship in the St. Lawrence seaway is 740 feet. The destiny class ships from the 1990s are 893 feet and Vista class are 1062 feet. The only ships of this size that carnival ever operated were the original Mardi Gras and Festival back in the 1970s and 1980s. Which would probably feel really small and amenity poor nowadays for a carnival cruise. 

Edited by zzdoug
Correct length of destiny class, add link
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I grew up on one of the Great Lakes and lived across the street from another one for several years. Also lived on the Mississippi River in mid-America. Cruising on the Great Lakes or on any American rivers would be at the bottom of my list of cruising destinations. Looked at some of the river cruises and way more expensive than our usual Caribbean, etc. cruises, tiny ships and no casinos. Boring for us. I guess if you haven't traveled in the US these types of cruises might be interesting.

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1 hour ago, zzdoug said:

Following up on this, apparently the maximum length of a ship in the St. Lawrence seaway is 740 feet. The destiny class ships from the 1990s are 893 feet and Vista class are 1062 feet. The only ships of this size that carnival ever operated were the original Mardi Gras and Festival back in the 1970s and 1980s. Which would probably feel really small and amenity poor nowadays for a carnival cruise. 

And, as I've stated before, the biggest problem is beam (width).  Cruise ships are far wider than cargo ships that would transit the Welland Canal.  So, any cruise ship capable of transiting the locks, width-wise, would be much shorter than the lock maximum.  As I've said, a ship of about 700 passengers would likely be the largest capable of transiting the locks, and still have modern amenities (specialty dining, night clubs, etc).  And, ships of that size do not benefit from the economies of scale that the bigger ships get, so the price point would have to be higher.

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On 6/28/2021 at 6:20 AM, Anyislandwilldo said:

I would love to stop in Cleveland at the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame!

I went there a few years back and enjoyed it  lot. 

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13 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

None of the mass-market cruise lines are about "niches", they are about appeal to the masses, hence the name.  The niches are relegated to the smaller lines, whether some are owned by parent corporations of the large lines (though most of those niches are merely being high end).  They seem to be growing quite well despite not finding new niches.

 

Yes, the Canada/New England cruises do well, and are seasonal, but they use ships that can be used in other markets, and are not limited by a restriction from only one potential market.  This means the asset does not sit idle in the off season, the way much of the Lakes shipping does.

 

As noted in some of the articles that you and others have linked, there is a potentially growing demand for Lakes cruises, but due to the logistics, it will be smaller ships, and smaller ships don't have the room to put all the "bells and whistles" of the mainline cruise ships (and still have any cabin space), so the market demographic changes.  The large lines know how to do business in their demographic, with their business model, and don't care to make a major investment in an untried market, with a business model they are not familiar with (everything from marketing to the economics of building and operating the ships), that could result in a massive loss for them.  Just look at NCL, with its US flag Hawaii operation.  I was part of the original team bringing the project on line, and NCL was very explicit in saying they had no idea how to operate a US flag cruise ship.  They jumped into the market, bringing three ships to the market in a couple of years, and ended up losing $174 million a year.

 

And, post pandemic, the cruise lines will be looking, over the next 2-3 year or longer, to tried and true methods of making money, to recapture the losses of the pandemic.  Given the losses they've experienced, and the cost of the newbuild orders they currently have, I don't see any of the major cruise lines expanding into new or niche markets for the next decade.

Mic Drop....

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We’re in after all the ship size, blah, blah, blah and more blah are worked out.
We have toured around all five Great Lakes via motorcycles and also

down and up the Mississippi River roads. 
I think there is a market for this & Lake Superior is the best of them all, y’all! 
Heck, add on River cruises eventually as well.
I’d see this as more likely a whole new division. A new model, etc…

Something else, new and fresh. 

Built to cruise elsewhere during the winter months the northern US & Canada are hibernating. 
My mother & uncle cruised The Delta Queen & American Queen on the Mississippi River. 
We toured before one of their cruises. Ummm, just no. We’d never cruise them. 
It was/is very expensive and geared to a very old demographic. 

Time will tell…..

 

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12 hours ago, chengkp75 said:

And, as I've stated before, the biggest problem is beam (width).  Cruise ships are far wider than cargo ships that would transit the Welland Canal.  So, any cruise ship capable of transiting the locks, width-wise, would be much shorter than the lock maximum.  As I've said, a ship of about 700 passengers would likely be the largest capable of transiting the locks, and still have modern amenities (specialty dining, night clubs, etc).  And, ships of that size do not benefit from the economies of scale that the bigger ships get, so the price point would have to be higher.

Another potential interesting constraint would be the height of the ship's funnel. The Welland Canal limits the air draft to 116 feet, which is only about two-thirds of what it is at Jacksonville and Tampa. Having only 10 to 11 decks above the waterline is one thing, having a 20 foot tall funnel instead of 60 foot tall funnel might be more problematic.

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So I may have sketched out a deck plan as to what this might look like. A few notes:

  • Lifeboats are tucked away on Decks 3 & 4. The interior space in between them would be the assembly stations.
  • There are eight elevators (4 banks of two, green) and four stairwells (light green). All stairs and elevator banks run between Decks 2 and 10. Only the forward most and aft most run to Decks 0 and 1.
  • Only 1 pool and 4 hot tubs
  • Lido Marketplace, Guest Services, and Carnival Adventures (Shore Excursions) are all comparable in size to that of the former Grand Celebration. 
  • Engine casing and fan rooms are also based on Grand Celebration. I had to take a little liberty with the orientation, but the size is the same. Significant mechanical/crew areas such as the aft portions of Decks 1 & 2, galley, and some stores on the stateroom decks are also similarly allocated.
  • The navigational bridge is at the forward end of the Lido deck, but there are no bridge wings
  • All staterooms on Decks 5-9 are Category 8 balconies. All staterooms on Decks 3-4 are fully accessible and are basically double the size of the other staterooms; they also have balconies.
  • A little more than half of the crew cabins are in the middle of Decks 3-9.
  • No dedicated specialty dining venues, but their would be specialty items on the main dining room menus like there is now. 
  • The Pizzeria and Deli would be inside the Lido.
  • Shopping onboard also gets a buzz cut as this ship would be sailing in US or Canadian waters for the entire St. Lawrence season, and therefore, not duty free.
  • The casino is two decks, but is still relatively undersized at less than 10,000 square feet. Both levels are accessible from the rear exits of the theater.

Seawaymax Cruise Ship.pdf

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