USA. Despite growing competition, Starboard Cruise Services expects to retain its dominance in the cruise duty free and travel retail market in the coming years, predicting it will have over 360,000sq ft (33,445sq m) of cruise ship retail space by 2020.

By then, the Florida-based company – owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton – will operate with over 750 brands on over 90 ships, some of which have seen high-profile retail additions. The company currently partners 10 leading cruise lines.

Luxury drive: Starboard aims to ramp up the onboard luxury offer across its cruise line operations (pictured – Bvlgari store on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas)

In November 2017, Starboard introduced Asia’s first Tiffany & Co store at sea as well as the global marine debut of a Dior jewellery and watches boutique onboard Dream Cruises’ newest ship, World Dream.

This year – following key contract wins – Starboard plans to bolster the onboard luxury segment with the debut of exclusive shops and brands on the cruise industry’s newest, largest and most anticipated ships. These include the Carnival Horizon, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, and Celebrity Edge where the food offer is also hitting new heights.

Starboard claims to be the first to bring luxury brands such as Hublot (pictured here on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas) to the onboard retail market

New concession contracts on three cruise lines

Carnival Horizon was awarded to Starboard as part of a multi-year agreement to operate retail on nine Carnival Cruise Line ships. The retailer’s other new agreements include a multi-year contract with Norwegian Cruise Line to operate on three of its newer ships, plus a multi-year contract with Costa Cruises including the new Costa Smeralda launching in 2019 and additional future new ships.

Starboard Cruise Services’ President and CEO Beth Neumann says the cruise industry is upping its game

Starboard Cruise Services’ President and CEO Beth Neumann said: “The cruise industry in recent years has upped its game in creating ships that rival the imagination and it’s vital that our retail experience does the same. Shopping must be every bit as entertaining and engaging as the rest of the onboard activities.

“In the retail environment, entertainment doesn’t just mean a water slide or a theatrical show, it’s also about engaging the guest in learning something new and connecting with their fellow cruisers. Our exceptional associates on board and the teams behind the scenes deliver on that promise day in and day out.”

Starboard has been a retail trailblazer in its 60-year history. It claims it was the first to bring luxury brands such as Bvlgari, Cartier, Tiffany, Dior, Omega, IWC, Salvatore Ferragamo, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Kiehl’s, La Mer, Shiseido, and Hublot to the retail cruise market.

The company stated: “Many are exclusive partnerships due to Starboard’s expertise in brand storytelling, retail design, and delivering exceptional guest experiences.”

Neumann added: “We know that guests on cruise ships are searching for the perfect memory of their vacation, not just merchandise. Cruise ships are the perfect place to entertain, delight through discovery, ensure guests are having a fun time in retail and deliver unparalleled hospitality. It’s not just about buying an item at a great price – it’s about capturing the joy of the vacation in a treasured keepsake.”

More on Starboard Cruise Services’ approach to the retail experience on cruise ships will be featured in The Moodie Davitt Report’s upcoming cruise review, out soon.