Cruising with Norwegian
Kayla sinners. It's your very own point sky here. Brian Kelly welcome to the first of two very special episode drops. It's it's officially CROOSWIJK on talking points. Now if you're a cruiser Aka someone who loves to travel on the high seas or if you're even on the fence about got it you're GonNa WanNa pay very close attention this week I. We've got news from Norwegian cruise line and we have an exclusive with their CEO and president. Andy Stewart he's here due to discuss the latest details on their climate initiatives and details on everything you need to know about their brand new cruise ship the Norwegian encore and then on Friday. Make sure you tune into the second edition of Cruise Week. We have another exclusive drop with the President and CEO of Carnival Corporation. Arnold Donald we recorded live at the twenty nine thousand nine skift global forum skip the largest creative business forum in the global travel industry. So make sure you are subscribed to talking points and following along at the points Sky Dot Com to learn more about all the latest developments in the cruise industry. And what that means for you now. Let's set sail with Norwegian cruise lines on talking points. CROOSWIJK CROOSWIJK Andy Stewart President and CEO. Of Norwegian. Coming up right after this. Welcome to this episode. Sort of talking points. I'm your host Frank Kelly the point sky and yes I do mostly fly these days. But here's a little fact. I've been on a number of cruises in my life in about half of them have been on Norwegian. I'm a huge fan of their haven product. That place to get away from it all and they've been innovating a lot these days Especially in sustainability today. I'm very thankful to have as my guest. Andy Stewart. CEO and president of Norwegian cruise line. Andy thank you so much which for joining us. Thanks for having me Brian. Great to be here. So you've been at Norwegian. I would like almost as old as I am not to age US or anything but actually no. You've been there for thirty one year and I'm thirty six so that start out on a light to Juliette thank you. Did you always know that you want it to be in the cruising business. No absolutely absolutely no I had no idea what cruising was all about when I met someone or the softball game length sweater and a year later they called me up and offered me a job. This is so fascinating so many leaders in the travel space. We get to talk to a lot of them at talking points. Come and almost. None of them wanted to do what they're doing today. So you by chance met someone and and was this at Norwegian or another competitor before the and I was working for Marriott Hotels Hotel Business MET This lady softball game. She was called lender sweater and wanted bovine. Ever got it back and then she called me a year later and said there was his job at Norwegian cruise line I thought cruising was something for blue haired ladies second husband I had no idea. Yeah that was a modern cruise industry. So they told me all about modern cruise industry are joint region and as you say thirty one years later I'm still here. How would you save? Running a cruise line is similar hospitality. You're a floating hotel but we are. We're we're a pretty complex floating hotel so there aren't many hotels that have more than twenty dining choices this is the ron many hotels that have racetracks and virtual reality pavilions in full Broadway shows and I could go on and on and on. We're a very complex operation and then we've all got to do it in a very tight space. All of our employees live with us. They don't go home at night so there's a lot of complexities of the cruise industry. That hotels don't face. I'm sure they have other the competition. The cruise industry is unique in many ways. And that was my interpretation years ago when I first started cruising but especially with Norwegian you guys is you know we've done a bunch of coverage on your ships in terms of four family travelers. I know our family travel. Division is really excited with the concepts that you've been coming out not only early on the go kart race trucks which I saw your commercial about that as someone who has a moderate fear of heights I think that would freak me out a little bit. And there's no safety concerns with that is there. I guess talk thoroughly tested that have you yourself been on the go. Kart as the new shape. Actually we go out thirteen feet of the edge of the ship. So it's a pretty exciting experience so on November second Norwegian encore set. Say Oh this is your biggest to date. What is it twenty deck high? You Go karts before but this isn't even longer go. Yeah the tracks long ago. We can't leave it off the edge of the ship it has more turns more opportunities overtaking. It's a very very exciting experience on top of the ship. It's eleven hundred and fifty defeat long and I used to be a tour guide at the University of Pittsburgh and we had this huge forty two story cathedral on campus and that was five hundred thirty five feet tall. So it's kind of wild for me to think about about this crucial being longer than two of the Cathedral. learnings in Pittsburgh put together. Do you have more bigger ships in the works the next class of ship slightly smaller. We have six six more ships on order that start in two thousand twenty two calling that Leonardo class gives it a little more flexibility with where we take that next series of ships and as I said we have six of them delivering between twenty twenty two and twenty twenty seven so we have a lot of capacity coming but it gives us a variety. We have a class of ship in the two thousand four hundred passenger range class in the four thousand range and now a class in the three thousand three hundred range so that gives a lot of choices. We spread off fleet further failed across the globe. We have a lot of flexibility in in terms of Solo travelers. I I know you guys have been kind of leading the pack there with the Solo Cabins. You've got the solo section of the ship and your. We've looked in our research. I mean those sellout sometimes months in advance so we try to appeal to a very broad audience. And you've talked about the family. Market is a very big couples market. We saw opportunity in the solo travel market and this is having having people who want to travel on their own. Feel very comfortable to do so. And so we have a number of rooms designed and price for the solo travel cruise industry was gets a bad rap that you charge twice as a solo traveler. We don't we have rooms designed and priced for Solo travelers. And then we have a lounge the just the solo travelers share and someone can put up on the board. Hey having dinner in the steakhouse not everyone wants to join me. It's a very comfortable way. The people to travel on their own and there are more and more people who liked to travel on the road with success stories of people who get married from those cruises. Oh you're all about hooking up. Of course they're all those happy stories have has anyone asked you to officiate. No no yeah no I have nothing. Seen us to officiate but one day one day and this episode's being recorded during the UN General Assembly. Week you're here. In New York for important announcement you know. Were just steps away from where the climate action summit is happening across the travel. Space every single travel leader has to be focused on sustainability especially within cruising which historically has not I had the best reputation on sustainability. Although you guys are doing a lot so let's just talk about the big announcement to reduce plastic on board. Yeah so Norwegian we've sustainability as you rightly say is incredibly important for us. We've set off still out to really be a leader in the area of sustainability and sometime ago we established this goal to eliminate all single use plastics across the entire ship. We started with plastic straws last year. And we then did a list of every single use plastic on the ship and one of the most impactful is plastic water bottles. You walk around the see a Lotta people with plastic water bottles. were selling plastic water bottles and we saw an opportunity to completely eliminate plastic water buffalo so as of January the first twenty twenty will eliminate all plastic water bottles across our entire fleet that will eliminate six million plastic water bottles during a year. And so we're very excited about it. It's and it's not easy to do. We went out looking for the right partner and we were thrilled to find a company called just just goods that produced this water just water and they have put a huge amount of energy into a container that is recyclable. Renewable and really early changes the dynamic when it comes to plastic water bottles. So we're absolutely thrilled with this announcement. We think is a huge debt. But it's a step in the journey. This is rarely end of the journey. It's one step and we're going to continue to check off that list and work our way down and you know who just produce more products that helps us do that. And of course there will be other companies that will help us on that journey. Not Everything's possible yet. We want to lead this. We want to be way ahead of regulation. This is not about a company trying to meet and chase regulation. It's about a company trying to do the right thing. Employees are passionate about it. It guests are passionate about it. Shareholders passionate about it. This is something that everyone who's associated with our companies passionate about this area and we have have to do more and this is one step in that journey getting rid of the plastic straws. I know every time I mean even when I'm at starbucks people be like Oh. I missed my plastic straws and I can imagine on a cruise cruise ship right. It's your one vacation a year. You've got your my tie and you WanNa have your plastic strolling when you took them away. What did you see negative customer feedback? We certainly have some some criticism. Yeah we absolutely did. We will have that moment where the issue on the nose. It's that's a moment we've all lived through but it's worth it you're right it's it's it's a moment and you know. We offer paper straws on request. But we have to do this. This is a journey that businesses have to embark on otherwise we are going to leave a footprint that ah not a footprint we WANNA leave for our children. Our Children's children so it's just a must do not a nice did exactly and in addition just getting rid of plastic. I know there's a bunch of other pillars to your campaign pain sustainability something. We all talk about but I love the concrete plans. You're doing I know with cruise ships like water conservation and management and sewage as unsexy unsexy as it is to talk about but it is with these humongous ships. Something that's real wider tackling. You're right we should talk about it. We should talk about emissions and the investment. We're making Kenyan exhaust gas cleaning systems that essentially it steam that comes out of the funnel We've able to purify it through the process and and it's only steam that comes out of the funnel we should talk about wastewater retreatment plants that take the bad stuff and turn it into pure water and we should talk about what we're doing in recycling minimizing everything that goes to a landfill we we should talk about all of those things. Because they're all critically important. I hope one day you and I on a ship together. Now take you to the garbage room. Something ever thought I'd say to somebody but but it's important and we're proud of what we do. We're proud of what we do around the ship to make sure that we're separating class from plastics from food waste and doing the best we possibly can with each of those items to make sure we minimize the footprint that we leave behind us right. I know a lot of airlines are testing around with biofuels and alternate fuel. I know the the cruise ship is a much different beast. Is there in the near future engines. That are more electric or is there at least testing in that space. They're all there are many. There are many things that we're looking at as we look into. The future is a complex area for the scale of these ships and as of now we're still using fossil also fuels on the existing ships. We have putting tremendous energy as I say into putting systems on board the ships that take the what would be emissions from from that fuel and turn it into steam those of the exhaust gas cleaning systems that we've been putting across south fleet and they're extremely effective. I will put us up against anything. That's going hang on land and really proud to say that Hurricane Dorian retallack in the Bahamas I know you have a private island. There are. How're things on the island? Yeah it's very very sad to see what happened in the northern Bahamas that Grand Bahama Island Avocados and we have a huge effort. The first thing we did was censorship out full of supplies. We have a partnership with a a nonprofit called all hands and hearts who are on the ground clearing up and starting to rebuild and and they help us off the Hurricane Maria rebuilt schools and Saint Thomas. NL doing that in partnership with us in the Bahamas. So we're really proud of that effort and we're doing everything we can to accelerate the return of the Grand Bahama island island as an opportunity for tourism because tourism will regenerate these destinations. If we can start to bring absolutely just like we're seeing in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's having a banner year and even though in the wake of a disaster people don't realize tourism is an act of good and actually visiting and obviously supporting companies that are conscious and giving back in the areas. They do business thank you for that. Arguably cruisers are the most loyal type of travelers in a certain way yet. Interestingly the loyalty programs cruises from my perspective how would you convince me otherwise and being on a cruise ship a handful lesson ten times I get the experience. What is your your focus with your loyalty program? Yeah I mean clearly. We want to recognize loyalty in our challenge versus the Airlines is. We don't fly once a week. So that card is a mind for me all the time. Lime and I live in a Miami hub so I can guess the carrier Sarria right so you know. I'm locked into American and they do a great job for me it's always top open-minded cruising on average people cruise every two years. So it's harder to have that real talk of mind loyalty but the program is really designed to bring people back people. Once they're in these programs very locked-in takes a couple to get people really ten but we have tremendous programs for them from priority embarkation to lots of goodies. Ladies on boom that enhance the experience. Why did you choose Norwegian over the other big ones out there especially your biggest competitor has over a hundred ships? It's now with different. A bunch of different brands. Why do you think people are loyal to Norwegian? You Know I. I hope it's a little bit of everything I hope. It's the freedom and flexibility. That's the heart of everything everything we do. The the choices that we bring to our guests that they have the opportunity to really enjoy the crews on their own schedule. The dining experience is very much like coming to New York or Vegas or another big city. We don't really send people to a big restaurant. We say fancy state tonight or French or Italian Teppanyaki Sushi. Whatever it happens to be exactly as you would do? If you're visiting New York. If you go to a show just like going to Broadway. I actually think you boots. I think I've seen it three times. 'cause I used to always I've taken clients and family. I mean it is such a fun show. What is the Kinky boot you have on board? Because most cabaret shows are shortened down versions like it's almost a full production show so it's slightly shorter hysterical. Feel good I mean you couldn't score feeling great. You WanNa hug somebody dancing down the aisle as you're leaving you're like Oh life is good. That's exactly right so you know entertainment. We want we want to. If it's not good enough for Broadway we don't WanNa do it and it I used to be the cruising everything sort of not quite as good and we've got to be as good as the best restaurants in New York. We've got to be as good as the best shows on Broadway of virtual virtual reality is GonNa be as good as anything. That's going on in any of the theme parks around the world. The racetrack has to be better than a racetrack. That you would go to in your local town and so on and so on and so forth because because it used to be that those things happening in big cities banal great dining is coming to small towns across America with huge pressure on us to do better and better and better and that is our focus. If it's not better than as good or better than the best on land we don't WanNa do it all right. We're GONNA take a quick break to hear from our sponsors. Here's more of my conversation with Norwegian cruise line. CEO Right after this be right back. Welcome back to the episode one of Cruise Week talking points. Let's jump back into it with Andy Stewart President and CEO of Norwegian cruise lines for someone who's never cruised. I mean it is a great value. When you think about it can be as cheap as one hundred dollars a night which is kind of crazy when you think about all that you get in terms of all these activities lease and your investments in the shows what's included in a cruise and then what are what are the actual plus ups once you get on board so if you WANNA get on a ship and spend nothing at all you can do that? You can dine for the week you can drink for the week you can go see a Broadway show. You can enjoy the pool. Enjoy all the desks. The go-carts extra the go-carts because extra. Yeah Yeah So. If you WANNA do that you can enjoy a week. Just pay the ticket price and you can enjoy your and there are a lot of people who don't even get off at the ports right there there are there are there are some people who enjoy everything that's complementary on the ship There are lots of choices beyond that. You want to go have a message. That's a choice if you want to eat tin one of the specialty steakhouses French restaurants. That's another option the race tracks an option so there are loads of choices. But if you don't do any of that you don't have to and all of that you can check online by boat you can see the activities and it's pretty easy to exactly on sale dot com. You can really see all of the options that are available. You can look ship. You can look at the destination seal. The shore excursions that available guests can really pick and choose the things that important to them technology. How is that changing the face of the cruising experience in the past? I've been annoyed with embarking and disembarking especially I'm always late. So but like using biometrics board quicker like what are some of the ways. That technology analogy is shaping the visit all coming using with testing with customs and border patrol facial recognition as a part of the experience in Miami. And that's going to start rolling out across other ports in the US are booked guest experience NC L. Dot Com could go online and they can really do almost everything that will expedite embarkation. It will have them pick and choose through the things they know they want. Want to do on board so they can have that all done before they get there. We have an APP that creates the pre cruise experience and then that connects to the onboard experience. One journey so that that carries you all luay through so so technology really is enabling. We don't the one thing we want to avoid having to stare at their phone. Yeah I don't know if it's for restaurant reservations. That's the one thing that's always stress when you get on the crews and you're like making even spun restaurant. Reservations were always stressful points to me. Be Pre down. We don't want everyone that. So we have some inventory for pre booking some. I'm on board the ship. It's never one hundred percent perfect but we do try to give everyone the choice to do things the way they like to do it. Some people have planners plan every moment of every day other people's spur of the moment uh-huh and. Hey I want to do this that. And the other and so we balanced inventory to allow to meet the needs of both those groups. I know a lot of people in the US in cruising Caribbean. What are some of the trends trends in non Caribbean routes? That you guys have seen success with or that you would recommend someone doing. It's so different experience. This is so many options we're expanding in Europe and Greek isles is really hot. The moment in terms of popularity versus temperature It's very very popular. And we have a couple of Greek isles cruises. One adventist one out of Rome that to take guests into the heart of the Greek isles. which is tremendously popular? We're launching a ship into Asia year round first time so we're going to do a series of cruises between in Singapore and Hong Kong. And then we're going to go up to China and then we're GONNA do some cruises around Japan so we think that's going to be extremely popular Alaska's. Obviously a tremendously destination estimation. We're putting a longer cruise into Alaska ten day cruise. So there's just a little bit more time in a wider variety of ports in Alaska which we think is going to be very popular. I've never been to Alaska Everyone says if you're GonNa do it you gotta do by Cruise. Why Alaska cruise the way to do it? Like what are some because it's just so majestic destination is so beautiful. I honestly I never wanted to go. I'm warm temperate and we'd like sunshine born Brit Drizzle Thirty drizzle that you live with so I'm I'm Sunshine Sunshine Sunshine. I never wanted to go to Alaska. I was dragged there. We did a extended family parents grandparents grandkids. And it's the best trip we've ever done. It's the most beautiful place excursions or incredible the helicopter up to the glacier. The whale watching you get in touch with nature you go into Glacier Bay and you just see this majestic glaciers. It's really go so you have to go. I'm sold what. What's what's the best time to do? The Alaska cruises between May in September. Yes they that's the season. We went first week of August and we were blessed. We we had a beautiful sunshine for seven days and it was just it was. It was gorgeous. The family want to do it again. I I was like no. It's a bucket list trip. You never do it again. Everybody everybody wants to go back and do it again for someone listening. Who's you know thinking throughout the podcast? I may want actually go on a cruise now. Why should they choose Norwegian? I'll leave it as an open ended. You Know I. I've tried to touch on our goal is to really deliver. The highest quality across everything do huge amount of freedom and flexibility eighteen choice with the very highest quality of dining entertainment of activities of shore. Excursions we are going to deliver experience that our guests want to come back again and and again and again and again I've got eleven nieces and nephews and I'm just thinking right now how amazing in Alaska cruise would be so time for family twenty here. We Tom Andy Stewart. Thank you so much for joining us. And congratulations and Kudos on the efforts. You have on sustainability leadership. There is noteworthy. Appreciate everything. You're doing pleasure. Thanks for having me many. Thanks to Andy Stewart President and CEO of Norwegian cruise lines for taking the time out out of his busy schedule to share the super exciting news. Make sure you check out all the details on the points guide dot Com for Cruise Info. And what that means for you looking for crews Bruce and stay tuned on Friday we have another special double draft this week in exclusive interview with the CEO Carnival Corporation Arnold Donald Special. Thanks to James. James Nomad Hotel and their team on the ground for hosting us in there beautiful library and to Andy's team at Norwegian cruise lines in my own G crew Christie Matsui Scott out mayor wits and net row are music is by brake master cylinder and this episode was produced by the Fabulous Margaret Kelly and Carolina Chagrin. I'm I'm Brian. Kelly safe travels.