David Sanders is the PR director of Princess Cruises in the UK who’s career began in marketing after studying it at University. As a Junior Executive, seeing his first press releases get published sparked his passion for PR.
David later worked for the Civil Aviation Authority and DLR (Docklands Light Railway) during the exciting time of the 2012 Olympics. David was new to cruising when he joined Princess in 2014, but he was absolutely fascinated from the get-go. Later that year he holidayed on Caribbean Princess with his family and was soon hooked.
Nothing beats cruise. Nothing. I love it. I’m very fortunate to work in this industry – David Sanders, Princess Cruises
What is life like as a Cruise PR Director?
David: My job is two fold, the first part is to try and raise the profile of Princess as much as possible. I’m lucky that Princess has already got a good reputation on and off the ship at the offices in Southampton. It can be through high profile activities like ‘The Cruise‘ (their hit ITV show) to everyday activities like looking after the team sending out press releases.
D: The other side is if there’s any issues onboard then it’s down to us to answer those questions, they are (fortunately) few and far between and tend to be things like a ship affected by weather.
David relishes the working environment onboard a ship when filming ‘The Cruise’, but sees a different side of cruising through his children’s eyes who once eagerly woke him up at 7am for a table tennis match.
Further reading: 8 must-do’s onboard Emerald Princess
Like my own nephew and nieces, David’s children see the ship itself as the holiday and were happy to forgo the chance to explore the South of France to enjoy the kid’s club activities – though David later explained how much they loved Marseille.
The Cruise ITV Show – What did you hope to achieve with it?
David: 2 million people a year take a cruise, so there’s still an awful lot of people who don’t. What we hoped to achieve with “The Cruise” TV show is to show these people what it’s all about. When you’ve been on one you become a bit of an advocate for cruising, when you haven’t there’s a bit of mystic about it.
D: When we look at the viewing figures, the series is consistently above 3 million (not including repeat and online), so you’ve got at least 50% of your audience who’re not familiar with cruising. We also look at website visits, brochure orders, sign ups and social media and assess if the series is having a positive impression of Princess and cruising.
D: The great news for us is the day after the show aired we can definitely see that spike in activity.
D: For series 6 I loved visiting Melbourne and I was impressed with Wellington. The New Zealand Fjords I didn’t know what to expect, it’s like being in Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
What’s the future for Princess Cruises, more TV?
David: From a PR perspective a documentary has gone down very well. You kind of underestimate TV at your peril – to get an audience of 3million plus a week is still very good going and you’d struggle to find another medium that can support that. Off the back of what we’ve done for the cruise there’s been other opportunities like Cruising With Jane McDonald (on Channel 5) who’s cruising down under (onboard Sun Princess during the latest series).
D: We’ve carved out a reputation for ourselves as a team who can support film crews well, so we’ll probably continue to look at opportunities in that area.
David continues to appreciate the relationship Princess has with traditional media (like Newspapers), but sees the value of bloggers and social media as a way of reaching an audience.
D: For Princess itself, we have a significant amount of UK passengers who travel with us – the majority sailing from Southampton. You can see from the cruise programmes we’re putting out at the moment we’re looking to satisfy that demand as much as possible.
Our second largest market outside of Europe is Asia, we send more people now to Asia from the UK than The Caribbean – David Sanders, Princess Cruises
David believes cruising from Southampton will remain popular, particularly with first timers and people who enjoy that familiarity. For more seasoned UK cruisers, David predicts growth in other areas around the world, such as South America and Australia for Princess.
What I love about cruising (which David reaffirms) is seeing all these fantastic far-flung destinations whilst enjoying the familiarity and ‘home comforts‘ on a cruise ship.
Tell us about the new Princess Cruise Ships…
David: We’ve got 3 new Royal Class ships and 2 even larger ships after that (up to 2025). At the moment we have to think about where the ships are going to go and where have we got the demand.
Princess falls under the Carnival umbrella, sharing an office with P&O and Cunard and the cross similarity between ships like P&O Britannia to Regal, Royal and Majestic Princess is evident in their design and layout.
D: The different brands know who their guests are, they know what facilities are going to appeal to their passengers.
What’s your favourite cruise ship from the Princess fleet?
David: I will always have a soft spot for Caribbean Princess, because that’s the first ship my family and I travelled on.
D: My favourite itinerary so far is The Baltic’s, the destinations are just so impressive – St Petersburg has the wow factor and I was also impressed with Oslo and Copenhagen.
I was pleased to hear David loves this itinerary as I’ll be taking it myself later this year onboard Sapphire Princess – be sure to follow along to see what I get up to if you’re new to my blog!
If you’re inspired to cruise or want to learn more about, visit the Princess Cruises website.
A big thanks to David for spending time to speak to me for this interview, follow him at @David_Sanderz and @PrincessUKMedia. I’ll be sharing more posts about people within the cruise industry over the course of 2019, including an interview with MSC in February on the eve of their new ship launch for Bellissima which I’ll also be attending.