Tourism & Cruises

Carnival Corp. taking over Saturday morning TV with 3 new travel shows

Carnival Corp.’s “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin” will air at 9 a.m. on Saturdays starting Oct. 1 on ABC.
Carnival Corp.’s “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin” will air at 9 a.m. on Saturdays starting Oct. 1 on ABC. Carnival Corp.

Saturday mornings are going to Carnival Corporation.

The Doral-based cruising giant is breaking new ground in the cruise industry with the production of three travel-related TV shows set to appear on major networks on Saturdays starting Oct.1.

The cruise company announced the programming Monday — scheduled to air on ABC, NBC and The CW — designed to introduce more travelers to the possibility of a cruise vacation.

Each lifestyle series sets out to capture a different aspect of the cruising experience. “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin” will take viewers adventure-hunting around the world with the Emmy-winning host. “The Voyager with Josh Garcia” will focus on authentic local experiences with the video journalist. “Vacation Creation” will feature comedian Tommy Davidson and YouTube star Andrea Feczko as they try to create memorable vacations for deserving families, individuals or couples.

Taking a reality television approach to showcasing cruise travel is something that is unprecedented.

Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of trade publication CruiseCritic.com

All share one common thread: Recurring images of the ships across Carnival Corp.’s 10 brands.

“It all began right there on that ship!” calls out Jeff Corwin after scaling 1,500 feet on Cadillac Mountain in Maine during a teaser for “Ocean Treks.” Beneath him, viewers see Holland America’s 1,350-passenger MS Veendam. On “The Voyager,” Josh Garcia concludes a day of exploration by heading “back to the ship to swap stories and plan the adventures ahead,” while images of Carnival Cruise Line ships roll by in a teaser. And in a trailer for “Vacation Creation,” a family gets a tour aboard a Princess Cruises ship on a trip to Italy.

Using TV or visual media to market content is not new across industries (Procter and Gamble created soap operas to show case their products, for instance), but it has become a growing trend, said Sam Slaughter, vice president of content at Contently, a New York-based content marketing technology company.

“[Producing TV shows] tends to be less expensive and it tends to yield higher returns. You are just paying for the production as opposed to paying to reach the audience [like with a commercial],” Slaughter said. “The idea that brands can do that kind of thing is starting to gain more traction … and the travel industry is ripe for this.”

In the past, cruise ships have been featured in documentaries and scripted television shows, such as “The Love Boat,” but Carnival Corp.’s approach is novel, said Colleen McDaniel, senior executive editor of trade publication CruiseCritic.com.

“Taking a reality television approach to showcasing cruise travel is something that is unprecedented,” McDaniel said. “It will give viewers a deeper, inspirational look at the entire experience, and that’s something we haven’t really seen before.”

The intent is to truly authentically represent what any guest can experience on a cruise. John Padgett,

chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Corp.

Central to a shows’ success is its ability to feel authentic while promoting a Carnival vacation, said John Padgett, chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Corp.

“All the content we are creating, while it’s definitely entertaining and engaging, the intent is to truly authentically represent what any guest can experience on a cruise,” Padgett said. “The level of brand placement is pure, so there is brand placement there when it’s appropriate.”

Padgett, who was one of the chief designers of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts’ MagicBand, said the cruise company’s mission is to envision the next innovation and do things guests wouldn’t anticipate.

Stirring excitement for cruising is central in the industry’s battle to catch up to its biggest rival: Land-based vacations.

About 24.2 million people are expected to take a cruise vacation by the end of 2016, a slight increase over 2015, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. That’s a small fraction of the billions of vacations expected to take place by the end of the year.

In 2015, a record 1.2 billion tourists traveled internationally, according to the UN World Tourism Organization. Five to six billion tourists traveled domestically.

Raising the number of cruisers is part debunking cruise myths and part inviting travelers to consider cruising when planning a vacation. That’s where the new programming comes in, said Carnival Corp. president Arnold Donald in an email to employees Monday.

The 30-minute shows, airing at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m, will continue through September 2017.

“Telling our amazing stories with charismatic hosts and cinematic-quality video production, our programs will inspire viewers to travel the world on our ships,” wrote Donald.

The 30-minute shows, airing at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., will begin just months before the industry’s key WAVE season from January to April, when cruise lines offer their best deals and most business is booked. They will continue through September 2017.

A fourth show already has been produced, Carnival Corp. said, and is set to air on a mid-week evening on cable in early 2017. The shows also will air on the company’s ship stateroom TVs.

The TV initiative is the latest advance in Carnival Corp.’s ongoing effort to expand exposure to audiences. In 2015 it ran its first-ever Super Bowl commercial; earlier this year the cruise company offered potential travelers a glimpse into a cruise vacation through Samsung virtual reality goggles at AT&T stores nationwide.

Together, the approaches target Carnival Corp.’s ideal clients: everyone.

“Our focus is to expand the market for everybody,” Padgett said. “We are not reductionists, we are expansionists.”

If you watch

Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin

Airing Saturdays at 9 a.m. on ABC, starting Oct. 1

The Voyager with Josh Garcia

Airing Saturdays at 9 a.m. on NBC, starting Oct. 1

Vacation Creation

Airing Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. on The CW, starting Oct. 1

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