Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas Drew Heated Reactions but Didn’t Impact Favorability

The cruise company maintains favorability in the wake of a polarized response to its newest and largest ship, writes travel & hospitality analyst Lindsey Roeschke
Net favorability for cruise brands among respondents who are aware of each brand
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*Net favorability is the share of those who say they have a favorable impression of a brand minus the share of those who have an unfavorable view.
July 27, 2023 at 5:00 am UTC

In June, Royal Caribbean began sea trials for the Icon of the Seas — the brand’s newest ship, which also holds the title of the largest cruise ship in the world. Media coverage of the massive boat drew a polarized response from the public, with one particular viral tweet with an image of the vessel referring to it as a “monstrosity.” While some responded to the tweet positively, saying it’s “certainly impressive,” most were not so sure, including one who offered the understated reply: “It’s a bit much.”

The good news is the debate doesn’t appear to have dinged the image of Royal Caribbean, as the cruise brand maintains a more favorable status than other major players in the space. Among those who are aware of Royal Caribbean, net favorability — the share of those who say they have a favorable impression of a brand minus the share of those who have an unfavorable view — is 31 in July, compared with an average of 24 for the major cruise lines as a whole.

While the Icon isn’t set to take her maiden voyage until January 2024, it will be important for Royal Caribbean to maintain this momentum in the interim. Cruising is experiencing a post-COVID resurgence, with travelers’ interest in taking a cruise up 10 percentage points year over year. At the same time, rival brands Carnival and Norwegian have been growing in net favorability since the fourth quarter of 2022, threatening to steal the crown from the reigning industry leader.

This memo utilizes data from Morning Consult Brand Intelligence, our flagship platform that every day asks thousands of consumers about core metrics for over 4,000 brands and products around the world. MCBI subscribers can further explore the data here. To learn more about MCBI, request a demo here.

Lindsey Roeschke is a travel & hospitality analyst. Lindsey’s work focuses on behavior and expectations in travel (among other categories), particularly through a generational and cultural lens. In addition to her research and advisory background, Lindsey has more than a decade of experience in the advertising world.
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