ShipsAhoy sits down with Justin French, Regional Vice President of Canada and Northern U.S., as he relays some company highlights and personal favourites.
By: Ilona Kauremszky
Justin French, Carnival’s secret king of karaoke, known to channel some Garth Brooks on karaoke nights likes to have some fun with staff at sales meetings. “It’s an ice breaker,” he smiles describing his singing chops on board the new Carnival Horizon.
For this seasoned cruise insider, Justin is Carnival’s Regional Vice-President in Canada and the Northern U.S., he relays some company highlights and personal favourites.
1. What’s new with the brand?
Plenty — The Horizon is the second Vista ship and in November 2019 the third Vista class ship, the Panorama launches. We recently changed our tagline to “Choose fun” seen at the Horizon opening in New York City. NBA Basketball Hall-of-Famer Shaquille O’Neal is also our new Chief Fun Officer of Carnival Cruise Line.
2. What’s an exciting initiative?
We have donated more than $16-million to help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital fight childhood cancer. On the Horizon there’s the Dreamscape, a 24-foot LED panelled column of rotating art themes which features 33 artistic creations done by patients of St. Jude.
3. Are there any incentives for agents?
Our recently revamped rewards program at www.goccl.com offers agents points which can be redeemed for electronic gift cards to a host of vendors in Canada.
4. What sets these ships or excursions apart?
The big thing about Carnival is the idea of being together and multigenerational groups. For our demographic, the average age of a Carnival guest is 47 years. We have more guest seniors than Holland America, and we sail 800,000 kids a year more than any other cruise line.
5. What’s a selling tip?
We have a money back offer, the only one in the business called, “Carnival’s Great Vacation Guarantee.” Guests will be reimbursed 110 percent of their cruise, receive a $100 onboard credit should they choose to return, and we get them back home free of charge. We also protect agency commissions. Last year about 50 guests took us up on this offer.
6. Upselling, yes or no?
Yes, we encourage it. I believe we have the best pricing in the business.
7. What’s been your favourite trip?
Naples, because of Capri — we went into the Blue Grotto by private boat and had a private beach.
8. One quirk travel agents don’t know about you?
When I’m home I do most of the cooking. I cook a lot of Italian and grill like cedar plank salmon, ribs and steak.
9. What’s a pet peeve?
People who do not want to check luggage. They get on the plane with the largest carry-on known to man and try to jam it in the overhead.
10. What would you like to see in the cruise industry?
We want to see it continue to grow. The opportunities are limitless. Also as an industry to dispel all the myths about cruising and paint a picture for them that says, “Wow we got to try this.”