Captain Morgan bar signals Diageo’s intent

The opening of a Captain Morgan branded bar on a tiny Bahamian island this last weekend signals Diageo GTME (Global Retail Middle East) division’s opening assault on the cruise line sector.

The bar, branded ‘Morgan on the Rocks', housed in what appears to be a ship wrecked pirate ship in a bay on Half Moon Cay, approximately 90 miles west of Nassau, was opened officially last Saturday.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Eric Breiding, Diageo GTME, Americas’ customer director, cruise channel, described the bar as: “The most iconic bar in the cruise industry”.

The US$2.5 million project, funded by the world’s largest alcoholic drinks company, is a joint venture between Diageo and cruise lines, Holland America, Carnival Cruise Lines, facilitated by Diageo's Florida-based wholesaler/distributor Carisam-Samuel Meisel.

The bay on the isolated island, is used by the two cruise lines because the sea beyond the bay is sufficiently deep to allow two huge cruise ships to drop anchor there nearly every day. Each liner carries around 3,000 passengers and, subject to weather, the ships stop there to allow passengers a day on the beach, 25 days out of every month.

Asked why Half Moon Cay? Matt Sams vice-president Caribbean Relations with Holland America Line whose original idea it was, told Drinks International: “It is the highest rated port because there are no hassles, no crime, no taxis and this is what people think the Caribbean should be.”

Breiding  told Drinks International: “This is a major step for (Diageo) Global Travel.  We want to invest  in our business and invest ahead of the market. This is a great opportunity to put the spotlight on the brand (Captain Morgan)."

Holidaymakers crowded around the Captain Morgan character and his two “Morganettes” promotional girls at the opening. They were vying to get free t-shirts, wrist bands, head bands and flashing necklaces. Breiding sees a visit to the shipwreck bar, which stands prominently on the beach, as a pleasant, positive experience which will help fix the brand in the trippers’ minds as they enjoy their holiday.

Asked about Diageo’s ambitions for the sector, Breiding, replied: “I cannot say we are the biggest (alcoholic drinks supplier) but we are the hungriest.”