Con Wars: Wizard World Lauches/Scuttles “Wizard World Cruise” to the Bahamas

 


WizardWorldCruise

“One does not simply walk to Nassau.”

[UPDATE: “Unfortunately, due to multiple talent having new filming schedule conflicts beyond our control, we have been forced to cancel the Wizard World Cruise.”  Wow… I was at Wizard World Philly, and they were promoting this then. Methinks there wasn’t enough interest.]  

Wizard World, known for their many fan conventions hosted across the United States, has now gone international! Next December, they will host a four-day comic con cruise from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas!

Before we shove off with analysis, here’s the PR:

Wizard World, Inc. (OTCBB: WIZD) and Rose Tours today announced its first Wizard World Cruise, a pop-culture, comic con themed, three-night journey on the Norwegian Sky, December 2-5, from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas. The event will feature celebrities including Norman Reedus as well as an Artist Alley with noted comics creators, cosplay contests, exhibitors, parties, video game tournaments and more.

This will be the only cruise appearance for Reedus. Others scheduled to appear include Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters), Barry Bostwick(The Rocky Horror Picture Show, “Spin City”), Sara Underwood(“Attack of the Show”), Billy Martin (lead guitarist/keyboardist, Good Charlotte; artist, “TMNT”), Phil Ortiz (animator, “The Simpsons,” “Muppet Babies”), cosplayers Jackie Craft, Abby Dark Star and Zen Dragon. Additional celebrities and creators to appear aboard Wizard World Cruise will be announced in the coming weeks.

“We are excited to partner with Rose Tours for our first-ever Wizard World Cruise!,” said Randy Malinoff, Wizard World COO. “Rose Tours has the best reputation for providing the fans with a great experience on their celebrity cruises. And having Norman Reedus among our inaugural guests is the best treat we can give our loyal fans!”

A variety of packages will be available, starting at $749.00 per person. The Wizard World Cruise base package includes photos with the celebrities, all meals onboard as well as open bar, a special cruise-only gift item and access to all Wizard World events on the ship. The Norwegian Sky (https://www.ncl.com/cruise-ship/sky) also features a casino, spa, full gym, basketball/volleyball court, arcade, 10 bars (all included), four restaurants (included) and three of Norwegian’s famed specialty restaurants.

That’s not bad…  $187 a night, which includes room, food, bar (ut oh…) and the convention (which includes a photo-op with Mr. Reedus). Plus, The Bahamas! In December! (After hurricane season.) Sure… that cheap room is probably below decks in “steerage”, but for most comic con attendees, a room is a place to sleep, shower, and stash your swag.

Now, this isn’t the first “at sea” comics event.  CBLDF hosted a “Making Waves” tour in April 2000. Wizard themselves hosted a party cruise during their 2013 ” Wizard World Comic Con NYC Experience“.

Once Comic-Con International sold out, I began thinking…

Way back in 2004, when the Republicans hosted their national convention in New York City, a group planned to rent a cruise ship to use as a hotel, berthed on the west side at the Manhattan Cruise Terminal. Many criticized this idea, as any money spent would not benefit the host city via hotel and restaurant taxes. It was soon scuttled. (HAR!)

But I filed that idea away…  could something similar be done in San Diego, where having a place to stay has taken on the feel of a refugee camp? How many people could you sleep in a cruise ship?

Oasis of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean, can host a maximum 6,300 people.

(The Disney cruise ships sleep 2400 – 4000.)

That’s large, similar to the giant hotels found on the Vegas Strip. (The Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego sleeps 1,625.)

Wizard World has booked the Norwegian Cruise Lines Norwegian Sky, with a guest capacity of 2,004.

norwegian-sky-1 wizard world

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Norwegian Sky, Deck Six

By convention standards, that’s tiny. Compare it to a science fiction convention at the local Holiday Inn, and that’s a pretty good crowd.

What does a normal cruise cost? Well, I found a trip on the same ship, immediately after the Wizard Cruise, for $700. The following week: $399. That’s the cheapest room, probably on the interior. Compare to Wizard’s $749.

Can Wizard make a profit on this? What are their costs? Unknown.  Is it a good deal? Well, that depends on the experience of the traveler, and I suspect (Comic Con) + (cruise ship) + (Bahamas) = A Good Time.

If Wizard is chartering the entire ship, then they can probably dictate what is catered. Although… NCL probably offers the same service regardless of the cruise, so that guests do not have a negative opinion of the service. Like the “inclusive” packages offered to guests, NCL probably offers an “inclusive” package to charters. It’s like renting a ballroom at a hotel for a wedding reception…the hotel figures out the maximum costs, adds a bit of profit, and everyone agrees on the final price.

Now… what about the actual convention itself? Can one plan and host a comic con on a cruise ship?

YES. It’s not much different than hosting a comic con at a local hotel.

However…

  • That 2400… will include guests, exhibitors, and convention staff.
  • Norovirus (and other con cruds)  Via the CDC:   The Sky: 5/17-5/24, 2003   Norovirus outbreak.   Latest hygiene report: 97    Range: 90 – 100.
  • Is there enough event space?
  • Enough ballrooms?
  • A theater?
  • Meeting rooms?
  • You can see 360-degree views here.  And floor plans here.
  • Deck 6: theater (930 seating), meeting rooms.
  • Deck 7: casino, video arcade, kids zone
  • Decks 8, 9, 10 : rooms
  • Deck 11: pool and eateries
  • Deck 12: sports and eateries
  • Staterooms  353 sq.ft to 121 sq.ft.
  • Complimentary dining: could a restaurant host events? Open dining… no reservations required.
  • Specialty dining (a la carte, costs extra)
  • Bar-Con (open bar?!?) 8 bars, 1 cafe
  • Other stuff to do

Things to consider:

  • Is the tour inclusive? Will it stop at the islands for excursions?
  • I tested the online booking page. The fees and taxes are considerable.
  • Singles get charged more for a room (since the rooms sleep 2+)

Disney has an burgeoning cruise ship business, adding two more ships to their current four ships.

Do they offer special tours for Disney fans and collectors? Possibly a D23 Expo cruise? There is Star Wars At Sea, a seven-day Caribbean cruise, featuring a one-day Star Wars celebration. There’s a similar package for Frozen. But nothing for other fans, or collectors.

The ships have two theaters, but not much meeting space, as every nook and cranny is designed for drinking, eating, and/or activities. If a  Disney ship were to be host a D23 Expo, one of the restaurants would probably have to be converted to exhibition space. Or the entire Expo could be scheduled to just the two theaters, with smaller events on the upper decks like a regular cruise.

I doubt we’ll see a pure comic-con experience on a cruise ship, but a fan-centric event? Certainly. That’s what Disney does now, where the entire cruise ship is themed with activities, meet-and-greets, and island adventures at Castaway Cay.


 

Comments

  1. Tommy Raiko says

    “I doubt we’ll see a pure comic-con experience on a cruise ship, but a fan-centric event?”

    Perhaps of interest, there’s the annual JoCo Cruise, hosted by nerd-fave musician Jonathan Coulton, assembling a bunch of musicians, performers, podcasters, writers and webcomickers to entertain cruise-goers. It’s not a “pure” comic-con, but it clearly ploughs the same kind of fandom seas in its promised appeal and provided experience.

  2. Tommy Raiko says

    Interesting that that JoCo Cruise article puts the number of attendees at around 800–presumably, a level sufficient to sustain the business, since it’s continued in the years since that article. If we’re serious about making a business model for a comics-themed cruise, that makes for an interesting data point as to the number of cruise-takers one might plausibly expect to attract.

    Of course, that doesn’t help at all with figuring out the expense side of the equation, but knowing that it’s hundreds-to-around-a-thousand customers who might be willing to shell out for the event can be a good starting point. (I also note that the site for the current JoCo cruise seems to indicate pricing rather higher that what the Wizard cruise “starting from” figure was, which wold of course figure into the model.)

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