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How Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Lines Get Instagram Followers to Engage

unnamed-6Fact: Cruise competitors Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Disney Cruise Line have a combined Instagram following of 192,228.

Compared to some of the massive audience sizes we’ve seen, this isn’t too astronomical.

Yes, when compared to these brands’ combined Facebook Likes at over 7 million, this number is small.

But consider this: the total engagement of these brands from January 1, 2014 through December 1, 2014 is a whopping 2,972,827, with a total combined follower base of only 192,228.

These cruise lines are driving incredible value from Instagram by getting followers to engage with them at impressive rates. Let’s find out how.

Audience Building with User Photos

Disney Cruises just joined Instagram this October, encouraging fans to share photos with them and promising to feature their favorites.

In fact, 63% of its top posts so far have been posts taken from Disney Cruise Line fans and tagged with those fans’ names, as in this post:

Who could use a #cruise right now? (Photo: @ishooteos) #disneycruise

A photo posted by Disney Cruise Line (@disneycruiseline) on

This strategy builds awareness for Disney Cruise Line specifically – not Disney Parks, not Disney, but Disney Cruise Line. It also forges a stronger connection with fans that love the Line enough to take pictures of and on its ships. 

Lead with Your Strong Suit 

This is Disney Cruise Line’s top post so far, in the short history of its Instagram presence:

  Happy #Birthday #Mickey!   A photo posted by Disney Cruise Line (@disneycruiseline) on

This post received over 8K in engagement across all channels, including Facebook and Twitter. The closest competitor to this post for Disney boasted 1K less in engagement.

It’s no accident that this uber successful post includes some of Disney’s most popular characters of all time. It’s a great example of how Disney Cruise Lines is winning engagement on Instagram fast and furiously by creating a solid foundation of content they already know is beloved.

Centered on the Ship 

Royal Caribbean sees consistently high engagement on Instagram by showing off its fleets of ships, suggesting that its audience is interested in the cruise experience itself.

For instance, this is Royal Caribbean’s most engaging post this year so far:

Garden views at sea. #centralpark

A photo posted by Royal Caribbean International (@royalcaribbean) on

Seventy percent of Royal Caribbean’s top Instagram posts this year featured specific ships and features on those ships. This is a good sign that content of this nature hits the mark for the brand’s followers. It’s also worth mentioning that 35% of Royal Caribbean’s top posts called out the new “smart ship” Quantum of the Seas in particular. This post received over 5K Likes and 582 comments.

Introducing the world’s first smartship. Follow the link in our bio to learn how #QuantumOfTheSeas technology is transforming your next vacation. A video posted by Royal Caribbean International (@royalcaribbean) on

Royal Caribbean’s most engaging content around Quantum either acted as an entry point for followers to learn more, built suspense for Quantum’s release on the open seas, or offered a play-by-play of Quantum’s first movements and trips.

The Sensory Experience 

Carnival has driven incredible engagement on Instagram with an average of over 2K Likes and comments per post.

The common denominator in Carnival’s top posts turns out to be calling out a sensory experience.

This is Carnival’s most engaging post in 2014 thus far, with over 5K in engagement:

And here is the second-most engaging post, with 4,594 total engagement:

Carnival works wonders in both the above posts and many others by calling to Instagrammers’ minds the immersive, five-senses experience of journeying on one of their ships.

Want to Learn About How Top Brands Are Working Their Magic on Instagram Right Now? 

Our Q3 2014 Instagram Study analyzes the activity behind thousands of posts and hundreds of millions of Likes and comments to find the most successful brands, tactics, and content types.

Here’s a teaser. The full study is available to download for free by clicking the button in the graphic below. See how your brand stacks up to the best in the world!

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Head of Marketing Communications here at Simply Measured, where I'm responsible for our content program, social media marketing, PR, and comarketing ventures. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.

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