Clear sailing for cruise lines

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Cruise lines are probably doing the best among travel companies at tapping into the older market, says Kathy Curry, client services director at Minneapolis-based Sandcastle Group, which specializes in the mature market.

It's a good thing that the travel industry is taking notice considering 20% of this age group, she says, is most excited about taking a cruise.

Carnival Cruise Lines claims it has 1.8 million annual passengers, and 35% are 55 or over. One way the ocean liner targets this group is by advertising through AARP promotions, newsletters and mailings.

"We have ads that show older people, and [we have] older people in our brochure," says Vicki Freed, senior VP-sales and marketing.

She adds that Carnival also promotes special programs and offers for AARP members, such as additional discounts from $50 to $200 off per cabin.


Holland America Line recognizes that many 50-plus guests desire vacations that include learning. Its marketing materials highlight on-board lectures during cruises to destinations rich in history, says Mark Kammerer, VP-worldwide cruise marketing.

"This age group wants a lot of choices, different places and new experiences," says Annette Cavanaugh, director of marketing communications at Royal Caribbean International. "Our new ad campaign [from Arnold Communications, Boston] addresses their concerns by highlighting off-the-ship experiences like kayaking and parasailing."

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