Carnival Cruise Shows How to Sell More without Hardly Selling

By John R. Aberle | Business Lifestyle

Jul 03

When you take a vacation, especially a cruise, you probably want to get as far from your business as possible for the week or two of your time off. However, if you are a small business owner or entrepreneur, or especially if you are a solopreneur, your business is never truly completely out of your mind. As a coach and consultant, that was definitely true for me on our combination 26th Wedding Anniversary and my 70th birthday.

Be Awareness While Vacationing of Ideas and Insights to Benefit Your Business

The point of a business lifestyle isn’t to always be working. It’s to sharpen your perspective wherever you are, whatever you are doing so that even while you are having fun, you are open to new insights that can benefit yourself and your business.

While my last post, “Behind the Fun Provides Business Insights,” looked at the organizational and infrastructure lessons from taking the “Behind the Fun” Tour on Carnival Miracle. This one looks at how Carnival handles upsells on their cruises. Upsells are add-on sales that you can make in your business to boost the total sale amount.

Upsells on the Carnival Miracle

Before I cover what I saw of how the Carnival Cruise Line does their upsells, here is a list of the areas I saw Carnival Miracle creating add-on sales. Which of these examples will spark your own marketing creativity? Notice that some of the services and products Carnival offers are provided by partners, not by Carnival itself.

Picture of the Spa on the Carnival Miracle Cruise

Spa on the Carnival Miracle Cruise

This is a picture of the Carnival Miracle Gym

The Carnival Miracle Gym

Picture of the Casino on the Carnival Miracle

The Casino on the Carnival Miracle

  • Spa
  • Gym
  • Casino
A picture of Art on the walls of the Carnival Miracle

Art on the walls of the Carnival Miracle

Picture of the Park West Art Auction Announcement on the Carnival Miracle

Park West Art Auction Announcement

Picture of Pixels Professional Photography Display on the Carnival Miracle

Pixels Professional Photography Display

  • Art Gallery
    • Framing
    • Package pricing, like three for $750
    • Financing available that is only for fine art
    • Art auction

Note: Park West, who runs these art auctions and presentations onboard some 140 ships worldwide, stocks the Art Gallery on the Carnival ships we’ve sailed on. The pieces in the gallery and around the ship are then available for the art auction.

  • Pixels
    • Professionally shot photos
    • Embarkation photos
    • Elaborate dress nights with fancy backdrops
    • Disembarking in port photos
    • Dining room photos
    • Casual, around the ship photos
    • Bonuses when you purchase more photos, e.g. a photo on canvas
    • Frames
    • Photo books
    • Cameras (Olympus)
  • Bingo
    • Daubers
    • Multiple sheets with a bonus scratcher
Picture of Carnival Miracle Excursion Posters

Carnival Miracle Excursion Posters

Picture of the Cabo San Lucas Arch  taken from CaboMar Excursion Cruise

Cabo San Lucas Arch

Picture of the Carnival Miracle that John R. Aberle shot from the CaboMar Excursion Cruise

Carnival Miracle viewed from CaboMar Excursion Cruise

  • Excursions
    • In port activities, like tours, snorkeling, dining
    • Shopping excursions
    • On ship, the “Behind the Fun” Tour
Picture of Dorothy Aberle at the entrance to the Shopping Mall of the Carnival Miracle Cruise

Dorothy Aberle in the Shopping Mall of the Carnival Miracle Cruise

Picture John R. Aberle shot of the Atrium Lobby Bar  on the Carnival Miracle viewed from the Glass Elevator

Atrium Lobby Bar on the Carnival Miracle viewed from the Glass Elevator

Picture of the Coffee Shop on the Carnival Miracle

The Coffee Shop on the Carnival Miracle

  • Shops
    • Alcohol & cigarettes – a benefit of going into an international port is that passengers can then bring back a certain quantity of duty-free alcohol and cigarettes
    • Candy
    • Clothes
    • Jewelry
    • Souvenirs
  • Bars
    • Drinks package
    • A variety of bars, some with free live entertainment
  • Coffee shop
    • Elaborate desserts
    • Fancy coffee drinks
Picture of an ad banner for Nick & Nora's Steakhouse on Carnival Miracle

Ad banner for Nick & Nora's Steakhouse

Picture of John Aberle’s 70th Birthday Cake at dinner in the Bacchus Restaurant on the Carnival Miracle

John Aberle’s 70th Birthday Cake at dinner in the Bacchus Restaurant on the Carnival Miracle

Picture of Stations for WiFi Your Way Stations on the Carnival Miracle

Stations for WiFi Your Way Stations on the Carnival Miracle

  • Nick and Nora’s Steakhouse
    • Dining package
    • Wine
    • Alcohol
  • Bacchus Dining Room
    • Chef’s Table – upsell to special dinner with ship’s captain or officer
    • Wine or alcohol with your meal
    • Upgraded dessert, like a mini-birthday cake
    • Photos (see Pixel)
  • Internet service
    • Chat using the free Carnival app for your smartphone – cost only “$5 per device for the entire cruise
    • Internet plans – various levels of service and lengths of coverage
      • Social Plan for the social networks and most popular airline websites (limitations apply) for 24 hours or for the full cruise
      • Value Plan for all your favorite sites and apps, including social media, e-mail, news, sports, weather, banking and more, again for 24 hours or for the full cruise
      • Premium Plan gave access to all websites and app including streaming services with the fastest available connection when coverage allows.
    • Note: the app for iPhones and Androids was free and gave you access to the activities for the day among other services
  • Laundry Service
    • Wash & Fold
    • Pressing
  • Carnival® World MasterCard®

How to Make an Attractive Upsell

Just tacking some product onto the sale isn’t a true upsell. Positioned properly, the customer will buy with minimal effort from a sales person, who merely helps your customer buy.

  • The upsell relates directly to the initial purchase improving its performance or making it more enjoyable
    • Photos and souvenirs preserve memories.
    • Artwork enhances their lives after the cruise while also serving as a constant reminder of that great cruise where they bought it. The auctions and sales make the artwork appear to be a bargain over retail studios and galleries.
    • Excursions add to the fun and enjoyment of the cruise itself while also creating those memories that the customers then rave about when they get home.
    • The shops provide bargains on jewelry, alcohol, and tobacco thus making the cruise appear cheaper or a better deal.
    • The spa, gym, casino, and bingo are some of the experiences people travel for.
    • The laundry provides a reward for the highest level of frequent customers and a service for those who prefer to pack lightly.
  • The customer is also likely to purchase them without being as critical of the price, often buying without even seriously considering the price, though a sale or “bargain” for buying as a package will usually make the purchase even easier for your customer to rationalize his buying more now. A bonus in lieu of a discount also usually works.
  • Having credit available, like the Carnival World MasterCard and the Park West Fine Art credit account, makes it easy for your customers to buy more now while your customer wants it.

Reasons that You Should Use Upsells

  • They add to the overall amount of the sale, possibly even doubling the initial purchase.
  • These add-on sales tend to have a higher percentage of profit than the original products.
  • For most of your customers, the best time for you to get those additional sales is right now. Once they will get busy with their lives, they will usually forget to come back, or they lose their sense of urgency.
  • Use this opportunity to also build a stronger relationship, which leads to future sales.

Use JV Partners and Strategic Alliances to Add Value and Increase Sales

Everyone is limited in time, expertise and resources so the easiest and fastest way to generate add-on sales is to find joint venture partners for online businesses or strategic alliances for brick and mortar or offline businesses. You will gain their expertise saving you time and money. You may also, with the right partner, benefit from their reputation. You gain helpers who are not part of your payroll to enhance your customer’s experience.

How Carnival Miracle Uses Partners to Add to the Fun

On this cruise, the following events made the cruise more delightful:

  • The staff at the spa put on various presentations, like “Acupuncture Intro,” “How to Increase Your Metabolism,” “Walking in Comfort,” and “Detox for Health & Weight Loss.”
  • The Park West staff conducted presentations on artwork, like Kinkade, and art auctions.
  • The head chef of Nick & Nora’s Steak House gave a Cooking Demonstration with a handout of the recipes as well as samples of the dishes they prepared.
  • Various presentations by the Excursion Department staff, such as tips on shopping, including a “Discover Diamonds & Gemstones Seminar” and a coupon book

On long days at sea with nowhere else to go, these events made the time more interesting and even educational. With up to 2,667 guests to keep pleasantly occupied and enjoying the cruise, these events add flavor and fun for your passengers (customers).


Upsells can significantly enhance your customers’ experiences with their initial purchases. While these add-on sales increase the value and even enjoyment for your customers, they improve your sales and profits. Moreover, you can develop JV partners or strategic alliances to provide some of the upsells.


By living a business lifestyle, you will just become more aware of what is happening around you wherever you are. Even a vacation, while being relaxing and enjoyable, offers you new ideas and insights that can benefit your business. Just as Carnival Miracle’s upsells grow Carnival Cruise Lines’ sales and profits, they also greatly improve the customers’ experiences. So, what approaches can you take from this article and apply to improve your own business?

Open Your Heart in Selling, 

John R. Aberle

John's signature in Rage Italic script

Aberle Enterprises​


Living a business lifestyle is more about being aware wherever you are, even on vacation, of ideas and insights you can apply to benefit your customers, your employees and you. Nevertheless, it is easier to find these insights when you take a vacation with a company that has it dialed in already. You can schedule your own business lifestyle vacation with Carnival Cruise LInes.

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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.