Cruise industry CEOs discuss innovations in industryPOSTED: 10/9/14 9:14 PM
St. Maarten – Innovation in the cruise industry was the topic of discussion at yesterday’s CEO Roundtable event at the 21st Annual FCCA Cruise Conference and Trade Show held at the Port of St. Maarten. President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines Kevin Sheehan, President and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines Gerry Cahill, and President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International Cruise Lines Adam Goldstein came together to discuss the significance and necessity of innovation as a means of staying afloat in such a competitive and dynamic industry.
“Guests demand innovation. Through innovation and new experiences you provide guests a reason to come back,” said Cahill. In an effort to surpass its competitors and meet the demands of guests, Carnival Cruise Lines plans to launch a new ship, “Carnival Vista”, at the end of April 2016, which will give guests a new cruise experience. The ship will feature 30-35 different branded spaces. The goal is to introduce new spaces and experiences that do not exist in the cruise industry today said Cahill.
“What matters most for travelers is where we take them and what they can do while there,” said Cahill. As of last year, Carnival Cruise Lines introduced the Carnival Live program, wherein famous musical acts, such as Lady Antebellum and Jennifer Hudson, perform on designated ships. The ships stay later in port and the tickets are sold at a reasonable price. “It’s a way to attract people who may have not taken a cruise with us. The loyal followings of these groups sign up first, so it works,” said Cahill, on the success of the program.
Kevin Sheehan of Norwegian Cruise Lines pointed out that innovation and development in the cruise industry is a learning process: “You take all the things that work on one ship and take all what works and put in on a next ship.” Because of its success on one ship, O’Sheehan’s Pub is now being installed in other ships. The same is being done with a Brazilian Steakhouse. Norwegian Cruise Lines recently introduced 2 new ships, “The Breakaway” and “The Getaway”, to its fleet. Sheehan went on to say that over the years, the demands of passengers have changed. “Rather than go to dinner, a show and then to sleep, they’re up all night.” To meet these demands, Norwegian’s 2 new cruise liners have “3 complete decks of fun.” Sheehan added that part of the success behind a cruise line is knowing which markets to dive into: “We try to be selective about where we push our ships and into which market. We learn from other ships and then use what we learn for the newer ships.”
Norwegian Cruise Lines was the first in the industry to buy a private island. “Islands are the highlight of the guest experience,” Sheehan pointed out. 30 Million dollars was spent to improve the island, which now has a Bacardi and a Patron bar, among other things. “We need to take more control than just visiting ports and hoping they will allow us to stay or come to visit.”
Adam Goldstein of Royal Caribbean International said that Royal Caribbean cruises offer its guests unique experiences through the use of technology. A notable attraction on “Quantum of the Seas” is the North Star, which is described as a “jewel-like capsule” that takes passengers 305 feet into the air around the ship. The SeaPlex is a party venue, where the DJ floats above partying guests. “We work hard with technologies that enable guest experiences to move forward…. There is a world of technology available to the cruise sector,” said Goldstein.
When asked about their brands’ dedication to the Caribbean, the CEOs assured their loyalty to the region as a cruise destination. Goldstein pointed out that “the Caribbean is the largest area of deployment. It still plays the leading role, which is why we are involved in development projects in the region.” Cahill added that “Carnival always focused on the Caribbean. The weather, the sea… it works for us. We are not going to deviate from the Caribbean.