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Become a Micro Cruise Influencer

Become a Micro Cruise Influencer - Tom Ogg, Co-Owner -Travel Professional NEWS

A Deep Dive into Cruise Influencer Marketing Trends


Written By: Tom Ogg, Co-Owner – Travel Professional NEWS


Back when I owned CruiseReviews.com I saw the impact of offering passenger reviews of cruises they had taken and the site was wildly popular and received millions of visits per month. I sold the site in 2008, which is the year that most social media sites like Facebook were established. I had experienced hundreds of cruises during the time I had the websites and frankly was exhausted from cruising.


A lot has changed since I sold my cruise sites and while I knew a lot about the cruise industry when I sold my sites, my knowledge of the industry was aging and and became less and less relevant. In 2023 I decided to start cruising again as I needed to rewrite our book “Selling Cruises, Don’t Miss the Boat” and needed to get current on my knowledge of the cruise industry. On my first cruise, the Norwegian Joy cruising the Mexican Riviera, I found that there had been profound changes. Not in the cruise product itself, but in the passenger loads.


Since I was cruising by myself, I found it easy to talk with passengers to find out how they researched the cruise, booked their cruise and shore activities. What I discovered was fascinating. So fascinating, in fact that I booked 6 more cruises on NCL. I did it as a consumer and booked directly with NCL to see if the things I heard were true. Here is what I learned from the experience.


Cruise Influencers Are Losing Their Influence

One of the most obvious takeaways from talking with hundreds of cruisers during the NCL cruises I took was that the idea of cruise influencers is quickly fading as a viable resource for cruise research. Cruisers were pretty much in agreement that influencer content is very easy to identify by its messaging, syntax and authenticity. In fact, they shared some great stories and examples of how influencer content was a complete misrepresentation of the cruise product being discussed.


Become a Micro Cruise Influencer - Tom Ogg, Co-Owner -Travel Professional NEWS


A great example of this was a younger family with two children that were on the Norwegian Spirit sailing out of Vancouver. They chose the Spirit based on a review where the content creator went on and on about how young children love the back pool area and Jacuzzis. The review was done on an Alaska cruise and had nothing but positive things to say about the ship and itinerary. So they were shocked to find out that there were no children’s clubs or activities whatsoever on the ship and that the aft pool deck was way too cold for the kids to enjoy it. Basically, the review cost the family an enjoyable Alaska cruise. To make matters worse, the family had booked a shore excursion directly with a supplier in Ketchikan and not knowing that Ward Cove was not in Ketchikan, they missed their tour with no refund.


While there is some good and relevant information in cruise influencer content, for the most part they come off looking like what it is, paid advertising by the cruise line. The cruisers I spoke with all used the Internet for research, they preferred to read and watch reviews by individuals that share the good, bad and ugly of their experience. In fact, they found individual non-influencer reviews a lot more helpful. They preferred short reviews of the restaurants, shore excursions and other elements of the ship itself.


When One Window Closes…

According to several ebooks, websites and videos all one has to do is start a travel blog and reach out to suppliers offering to review their cruise, hotel, resort, restaurant, attraction and so on. While some influencers did quite well early into the marketing trend to focus on influencer marketing, for the most part the travel industry suppliers have developed a firm understanding of the influencer market. Unless you have a robust track record of producing meaningful results for cruise lines, it is quite likely that they will probably not want to engage you as an influencer.


Become a Micro Cruise Influencer - Tom Ogg, Co-Owner -Travel Professional NEWS


While the evolution of influencer marketing is still maturing, it is clear that micro influencers may be the beneficiary of the loss of influence and credibility of the more established influencers. Consumers are becoming more sophisticated on the Internet and are very aware that there is influencer content that is bought and paid for by travel suppliers.


Cruisers do not want to sit through 60-minutes of watching a ship walk-through with an influencer making the best case for each part of the ship. The vast majority of these influencer walk-throughs are done while the ship is in port and there are few passengers on the ship. While interesting to see the various venues of the ship, it does not give the person watching the content any idea of what the cruise is going to be like. The way passengers dress, the density of passengers by the pool(s), in the buffet, shows, lounges and other public venues give a great deal of information of what the cruise is going to be like and is extremely valuable information.


So, the bottom line is that consumers want the truth about what the ship they are considering is really going to be like, not an influencer’s spin on how wonderful it will be. With all of the advances in technologies like AI, social media, smart phones, 360 cameras, VR, social media, short form videos and so much more, the opportunity is there for travel agents to offer sophisticated and truthful content and cash in on the consumer demand for dependable and honest cruise information.


Where is All This Going?

It appears obvious at this point that micro influencers using current technology and digital 360 short form video content have an important opportunity to grow their business by creating a cruise vlog and social media channels featuring high quality video content. The current cruise influencers have created their content using 180 video and it is impossible to create high quality 360 content using 180 video. This allows you to become important because of the quality of your content and lack of competition.


If you are considering taking this pathway, here are some things to do immediately and 5 things you shouldn’t do.


6  Things to Do

Have a Plan: Like any business or marketing activity, you should have a well thought out plan of action for becoming a micro-influencer. What is your niche going to be and why would consumers want to follow you on social media? Why would suppliers want to work with you? You should develop a strong following on your social media channels  within your niche. This is what suppliers that have an influencer marketing effort are looking for.



Use Current Technology

Doing a ship walk through with an old smart phone that shoots low res video is simply not going to work. The poor quality video with the wind noise and shaky presentation is simply unprofessional at this point and no one is going to want to watch it. Suppliers will want to review your work long before working with you and are not interested in amateur content. If you plan to exploit the opportunity, you must upgrade your technology and skill set to create professional video presentations. You should also immerse yourself in the technology that creates VR content.


Use Short Form Videos

Vine, which was a short form video platform was started in 2012 gave way to TikTok which thoroughly embraced the short form video content. YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels and Stories are the best platforms for distributing short form video content. Short form video has become the most powerful way to reach consumers. Rather than shooting a ship walk through review of a ship you are sailing on consider shooting short videos of one to three minutes of specific video that can be found by searching specific keywords. As an example, review one restaurant at a time and in a separate video that can be uploaded and tagged with the search keywords.


Use a 360 Video Camera

With VR about to become a household reality, you should invest in a 360 camera to shoot video for your social media campaign. 360 video cameras shoot video in 360 degrees capturing everything in front, on your sides and in back of you. It is the proper format for VR presentations and the shots you can take with 360 video cameras are stunning and professional. While obviously not made for the specific purpose of shooting cruise ships, resorts and travel venues, that is one perfect application for them. While good video can be had by using smart phones, a 360 camera is a must have moving forward if you use social media for marketing purposes and if you want to become a micro influencer.


Use Video Editing

360 cameras offer robust and amazing video editing tools that can allow you to create stunning effects that are perfect for travel videos. Cameras such as the Insta360 x3 comes with an invisible self stick that present the opportunity for video effects that are incredibly powerful. 360 video cameras have hundreds of effects built into the camera, however you can upload your video to your iPhone and edit the video in any video editing program to create professional level videos.


Understand Virtual Reality

VR will become a favorite way to view travel content. It allows those watching a VR presentation to immerse themselves in a cruise ship, resort, destination and other travel venues just as if they were exploring as they were there. Apple, Meta RealWear, Hp, Sony and many other companies are involved in creating VR headsets for consumers and offer VR products and are competing for the consumer market. With such a wide array of companies, look for the cost of effective VR headsets to decline as VR becomes more available and the VR content options grows from VR creators. While 360 video cruise content is far better than traditional 180 video and will bring your video content that is properly tagged to the top of the various video search engines. The best thing is that turning your 360 video content into VR is an easy task.


Overall, while travel influencers can be influential in inspiring and informing travelers, it’s important for them to approach their content creation with integrity, responsibility, and respect for both their audience and the suppliers that they promote. Offering suppliers high quality and professional 360 and VR content is what they want.


5 Things Not to Do

Inauthenticity: Some travel influencers may prioritize aesthetics and sponsored content over genuine experiences. This can lead to a lack of authenticity in their recommendations, potentially misleading their followers. This is the main issue cruisers have with cruise influencers. When influencers distort their experiences to create positive content on behalf of the cruise line, they immediately lose what credibility they have making their content suspect to consumers. Once lost, it is virtually impossible to regain it.


Become a Micro Cruise Influencer - Tom Ogg, Co-Owner -Travel Professional NEWS


Financial Bias

Cruise influencers often rely on sponsorships and partnerships with cruise brands and tourism boards, which can create a conflict of interest. Their recommendations may be influenced by financial incentives rather than genuine suitability for their clients. Cruise agencies that work with a limited number of cruise lines to gain overrides may well be motivated by the potential commissions and overrides, rather than the best choice for their client’s.



Expectations: Cruise influencers often showcase idyllic destinations and experiences, creating unrealistic expectations for their followers. This can lead to disappointment when travelers encounter the realities of cruising, such as crowds, expenses, or cultural differences. I recently saw a review of the dining venues on a mass market ship that was so unrealistic I can’t imagine that anyone would have believed the influencer. Share your realistic experience, both the good and bad.



The proliferation of sponsored content and affiliate marketing in the influencer industry can lead to an over-commercialization of travel experiences. This can diminish the value of authentic recommendations and erode trust between influencers and their audience. I remember when I started CruiseReviews.com that there were just a few websites that had cruise and port content on them. Today, everyone on a cruise has a smart phone with a camera and there are millions upon millions of cruise and port videos on Youtube, TikTok, Instagram and other social media.



Failing to disclose that you are an influencer being paid for the content being provided is unethical. Travel Influencers and affiliates must disclose their relationship with their sponsors by law, however, unless the influencer or affiliate are quite large, few ever do.