Radio Guest List — Norwegian Encore — November 9, 2019
This week’s broadcast of Eye on Travel comes from onboard the new Norwegian Encore on its first cruise from Bremerhaven, Germany to Southampton, United Kingdom. Peter has an update on the Boeing 737 Max investigation and predicts when it will be back in the skies. Joining Peter on the broadcast is retiring Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO, Andy Stuart, to speak about his long tenure in the cruise line industry and the move towards more responsible, sustainable practices — the move towards eliminating single-use plastics on ships and seeking cutting-edge carbon emission goals. Then, Cruise Critic’s Adam Coulter discusses the fastest growing cruise markets around the world, with a few surprises. There’s all of this and more when Eye on Travel broadcasts from aboard the Norwegian Encore.
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Klaus Lugmaier, Regional VP of Fleet Operations for Norweign Cruise Line, speaks about the evolution of Norwegian cruise ships and the growth. The Encore has almost 7,000 guests and crew onboard. There are 30 kitchens, and each restaurant has its own kitchen. Nothing is pre-cooked. Then, he discusses the technological advances, such as the Speedway — a two-story, go-kart race track. Norwegian has always been on the innovative forefront. It was the first cruise line with the first steakhouse and the first sushi restaurant. If you had told him 31 years ago there would be steakhouses and race tracks on ships, he’d tell you that you’re crazy.
Silas Cook, Norwegian Encore Cruise Director, says that the “Encore” explains the ship in itself. It is bringing popular things back but now bigger and better too. With certain activities like the laser tag, go-kart racing and Galaxy Pavillion VR experiences, you don’t feel like you’re on a ship. It’s a new level of detail. One of its goals is also to try to spread people out. The theatre sits close to 900, which is small for a ship this size. But it also has more than two times the number of venues and supporting lounges. It is all designed to keep the traffic flow moving.
Harry Sommer, Incoming President of President and CEO of Norwegian, talks about how its primary source of business still comes from travel agencies. He comes from the travel agency world, and specifically running a travel agency only selling cruises. About 30 million people cruise each year, which represents only about 2% of travelers. It sees resorts as the competition. For every 50 people booking, 49 go to resorts and only one goes to a cruise. It wants a larger share of those people. He believes that this cruise ship rivals the best resorts in the world. Then, he reveals what he looks for as an indicator of a product. When he boards a ship, he looks at the staff. If the staff isn’t happy that is a sign that you might not have the best time there either.
Andy Stuart, President and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, details his long career in the cruise industry. He joined Norwegian Cruise Line in 1998. At that time, the entire capacity of the fleet was close to the capacity of this one ship, the Encore. The value of opportunity on a ship continues to expand the industry. He feels like the cruise industry sees disproportionate attention in travel because of the innovations. Not that many people are actually cruising compared to other sectors of the travel industry, but it is a leader in technology and innovation. He discusses the technology of minimizing its environmental impact. The Encore is the first ship of its size to eliminate plastic water bottles. It will be eliminated across the fleet by January.
Captain Niklas Persson, Captain of the Norwegian Encore, speaks about automation systems needed for the larger ships. He also explains that the worst thing that can happen on a ship is a fire. Because of that, the vessel has been engineered to shut down an engine fire very quickly. If you smoke in your room, the crew will know right away. Sensors are everywhere. There’s also a dynamic positioning system. If you are going even one knot an hour, you can cause a lot of damage with a ship. He also explains that with a ship this size, you are limited with the ports you can enter.
Simon Murray, VP of Guest Experiences and Innovation for Norwegian Cruise Line, states that safety is always the number one concern. He talks about the extension of the Speedway, which goes 13 feet over each side of the ship, and has a longer and wider track than the Norwegian Bliss. Guests are going at a max of 32 miles per hour, but it feels incredibly fast because you’re so close to the ground. Initially he thought the go-kart race was a crazy idea. After a lot of work and engineering, the ship figured out a way to do it. There are some ideas that will always be impossible on a ship though, such as a lazy river.
Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor of Cruise Critic, has been on all the inaugurals for NCL in the last few years. He shares his experiences on the fleet and what he thinks are the stand-out features. He is a big fan of the go-karts with speakers that make you think you’re going very fast. He is also excited about the Encore’s new dining concepts, such as Onda by Scarpetta. He talks about how ships are getting bigger and that gives you more space to put cool, bigger and better things on them. The level of engineering blows his mind. Then, he discusses the impact to the cruise industry when sailing to Cuba was shut down from the U.S. And 800,000 bookings evaporated. The cruise lines weren’t ready for Cuba to go away so quickly.
Celine Cousteau, Filmmaker, Explorer, Spokesperson and TreadRight Foundation Ambassador, joins the program to discuss educating the public and sparking their curiosity in environmental conservation. She discusses what it really means to travel sustainably and sustainable food. She doesn’t eat fish and shares that 70% have plastic in them. Is it fixable? She dives into the efforts of plastic clean-up and why it’s best to think proactively, not reactively. She talks about empowering people to make better choices and traveling thoughtfully. She argues that if you have the power to pay for a holiday, you have a privilege and a responsibility.
Joshua Foer, Co-founder of Atlas Obscura, dives into the, just released, second edition of the Atlas Obscura book. Some of the places that are highlighted are teetering on the edge and that little bit of publicity through the books or website can help keep these places alive. Essential landmarks are experiencing overcrowding, and it is important to pull people from the core landmarks and get them to the places they didn’t know about. The goal of the book is to help you look at the world in a new way.