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Big interview:

With Scarlet Lady scheduled to enter service this year, homeported in Miami, where a new terminal is also being constructed to house it and two sister ships from 2021, Virgin Voyages is set to make a massive impact on the sector over the next 24 months and beyond. We sit down with CEO Tom McAlpin to discuss efforts to introduce a new demographic to cruising, competing with established powerhouses, and how McAlpin and his team intend to differentiate their line from everything else out there on the market.

Shipbuilding, maintenance & repair:

From the $200 million conversions of Carnival Victory and Carnival Radiance to $165 million being spent on Allure of the Seas, the drydocking of cruise ships is now estimated to be worth some $3 billion annually, with the unprecedented ambition and scope of revitalisation projects posing fundamental questions about how we quantify vessel lifespan and potential upcycling. We discuss this new world of possibilities with Carnival’s Bo-Eriq Blomqvist and Royal Caribbean’s Harri Kulovaara.

Due for delivery later this year, World Navigator and World Voyager will join World Explorer, which entered service in 2019, in delivering luxury, small-ship experiences to guests. Owned by new Portuguese operator Mystic Cruises and built at Portugal’s WestSea Viana Shipyard, they are the first cruise ships anywhere to incorporate hydrojet technology. What’s more, in January 2020, the Mystic announced the order of a further four ships. What accounts for such a spate of newbuild orders and how have the challenges for a new operator entering the shipbuilding game for the first time been overcome? We put these questions and more to Mystic Invest’s Mário Ferreira.

Interior design:

Seven Seas Splendor is among the most eagerly anticipated launches of 2020, boasting, among a number of other highlights, the largest luxury suite at sea. With interiors overseen by Tillberg Design, the promise has long been that this ship will redefine maritime luxury and set new standards for the sector to follow. We look at the designs underpinning these promises and ask what premium guests are looking for from interiors, with exclusive input from Tillberg founder Fredrik Johansson.


In September 2019, Norwegian Cruise Line announced its ambition to become “the first major global cruise company to become plastic bottle free” by 1 January, 2020. This effort will involve replacing over six million single-use plastic bottles every year and follows a 2018 initiative that saw the brand eliminate singe use plastic straws across its fleet. The same year, Hurtigruten banned all single-use plastic from their ships and it seems only a matter of time before all operators across the industry follow suit. We look at how successful these efforts have been and discuss the requirement for constant vigilance across the supply chain with Sarah Ferguson-Brown, director of environmental operations at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, and Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.


At last year’s 74th session of its Marine Environment Protection Committee, the IMO moved up the start date of Phase 3 of its Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) standards for new ships by three years, from 2025 to 2022. What specifically does this move mean for newbuilds in terms of fuel usage and propulsion? Might we be about to see a revolution in dual-fuel passenger ships? And what steps need to be taken in order to ensure that the industry is prepared for radical change? We speak to CLIA’s Robert Griffiths and MEPC chair Hideaki Saito.

Safety at sea:

A cruise vacation is a time to relax and unwind, but, on occasion, some guests have been known to take such freedom from responsibility to unwelcome extremes. High-profile drunken incidents at sea do damage to the reputation of the cruise vacation as a whole, put passengers at risk, and call into question how one intervenes in order to censure behaviour and encourage safety without being seen to undermine the cruise experience? We talk to Jennifer Love, Royal Caribbean’s global chief security officer, and Colin Campbell, chief security officer of Carnival UK, about the challenge of ensuring guests feel safe and protected without creating an overbearing security presence.

Operations management

The expedition cruise sector is booming, with 10 new ships scheduled for delivery in 2020, record guest numbers, and increasingly adventurous itineraries being brought to market. What accounts for this significant performance spike, how different are operational requirements between expedition and more traditional operators, and to what extent are there lessons both parties might learn from one-another? We speak to Ponant chief operating officer Navin Sawhney and Lindblad COO Terry Robertson.

Cruise ships have long been likened to floating cities, and they have just as much to gain from turning ‘smart’. On the guest experience side, MSC Cruises has launched ZOE, the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant, and is forecasting a future where staterooms “track heart rates and facial expression, adjusting light and temperature for maximum comfort.” Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity are using facial recognition technology to speed up check-in and machine learning to ensure staff are always where they’re needed. We talk to Jay Schneider, senior vice president of digital at Royal Caribbean, and Luca Pronzati, chief business innovation officer at MSC Cruises, about getting the internet of things to float.

On-board services:

Stage shows at sea are getting more ambitious, with NCL’s first ever Broadway cruise heading from New York City to Bermuda this winter highlighting guests’ desire to see myriad productions of popular theatre. World Cruise Industry Review speaks to Richard Ambrose, Norwegian Cruise Lines’ vice-president of entertainment, Anthony Diaz, CEO of Sixthman, and performer Kayla Radam, about treading the boards at sea.

Food & beverage:

Veganism is the dominant global culinary trend and operators are taking notice. Royal Caribbean recently announced it would serve vegan food across its fleet, while Regent Seven Seas has launched an ambitious range of vegan menus covering everything from Mexican to Greek. We talk to Vegan Travel, a vegan cruise company; Sandy Pukel, president of Holistic Holiday at Sea; and Jason Montague, president and chief executive at Regent Seven Sea about the challenges of being vegan at sea – and the how the industry is committed to enabling passengers to eat their greens.

Ports & destinations:

World Cruise Industry Review speaks to Francesco di Cesare, president of the Adriatic Sea Forum, Varda Dosan, director of the Mediterranean Centre for Environmental Monitoring, Adrian Gurma, mayor of Sarande, and Robert Binder, CEO of Oceania Cruises about why the Adriatic is enjoying such popularity – and how to balance profit with local culture and history.

Editorial content is subject to change.

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