“In addition to leading Princess Cruises, I’m tasked with the responsibility of Carnival Australia’s shared services for the Carnival Corporation brands that are operating in, and sourcing from, Australia,” Swartz says. “I also oversee P&O Cruises Australia. With the tremendous market growth in Australia over the past year or so, and increasing competition in the region, this role requires an even greater focus on developing a regional strategy and coordinating brand activity to maintain Princess’s leadership position.”
This July, Swartz’s focus was on the launch of Majestic Princess, which is the first Princess ship to be designed specifically for the Chinese market. The vessel was christened by eight-time NBA All-Star Yao Ming and his wife Ye Li, a former basketball player on China’s national team, in her new Shanghai, China homeport after completing her inaugural ‘Silk Road Sea Route’. The 49-day journey from Rome, Italy to Shanghai retraced the ancient Chinese maritime Silk Road trade route, calling at ports such as Athens, Greece; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Cochin, India; Singapore; Port Klang, Malaysia; and Xiamen, China before arriving at Shanghai Wusongkou International Cruise Terminal.
“As a luxury vessel, Majestic Princess promises the ultimate cruise vacation for Chinese travellers, offering Princess’s renowned warm, welcoming, international service experience – enhanced for Chinese travellers’ satisfaction,” says Swartz.
Majestic Princess features two speciality dinner menus designed exclusively for Princess by Michelin star-awarded chefs Emmanuel Renaut (found in La Mer) and Richard Chen (found in Harmony). The new ship also has the largest duty-free shops at sea; the new Camp Discovery youth areas and programme; Princess Luxury Beds developed in collaboration with board-certified doctor and sleep expert Michael Breus; and Fantastic Journey one of the most technologically advanced, immersive musical and cinematic productions at sea, which features drones and video mapping.
“We’ve received a lot of positive feedback on Majestic Princess thus far,” Swartz remarks. “Our maiden voyage gave us the single highest boutique sales for any cruise ship in Princess history. This reinforces that our luxury brand is resonating well with guests in China, and that these guests are finding value in the inventory and our pricing.”
Swartz expects that the newbuild will help to bring a new level of cruising to Chinese travellers during her maiden Shanghai season and when she sails two 14-day ‘Grand Asia’ voyages in 2018. Sailing between Shanghai and Singapore, the itineraries will include calls in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, and a late-night call in Hong Kong.
“As our new flagship, Majestic Princess is a perfect demonstration of an ‘East meets West’ international cruise vacation experience,” she explains. “Representing more than 50 years of Princess’s experience, we are confident the ship has redefined the luxury cruising experience for Chinese guests.”
Princess is also making progress with Majestic Princess’s three sister ships, which will join her in the Royal Class alongside the popular Regal Princess and Royal Princess. The fourth is currently under construction at the Fincantieri yard in Italy ahead of her 2019 delivery, while the fifth and sixth Royal Class ships will be delivered soon after. “We will share details about their onboard features in the near future,” says Swartz.
In the meantime, Princess is upgrading several of its existing ships to ensure they remain popular. This year, Caribbean Princess was fitted with seven new dining options and other enhancements, while Pacific Princess underwent a multi-million dollar renovation. The latter was equipped with 178,000 square feet of new carpet, 700 Princess Luxury Beds and the line’s new hull livery, while refurbishments were carried out in four dining venues, 336 cabins (including the new Club Class Mini-Suites), atrium and pool deck.
“We are very proud of our Caribbean Princess enhancements,” comments Swartz. “The dry dock updates were the largest food and beverage related investment in the fleet’s history and are getting rave reviews. As part of our ‘Come Back New Promise’, we are dedicated to differentiating our approach to cruising, offering our guests enriching vacation experiences by connecting them with each other, nature and different cultures in a new way. We are continuously working to enhance our ships with this value in mind.”
In 2017 and 2018, Carnival Corporation’s new Ocean Medallion Class will debut on Princess’s ships. A first-of-its-kind wearable device that can be worn or carried by passengers, the Ocean Medallion connects to sensors as guests move around the ship anticipating their every onboard need and delivering a fully personalised cruise experience.
“We’re making daily progress with Ocean Medallion so that it will deliver the best guest experience in the world,” says Swartz. “The ships that premiere Ocean Medallion span different destinations around the globe so that many who travel with us can enjoy this new offering.”
Swartz predicts that the medallion class will transform the guest experience, while also driving additional revenue and boosting customer loyalty.
“Imagine if you didn’t have to spend time during your cruise going through all the available activities to see what’s perfect for you, but instead you’re offered only the things you’re interested in,” she says. “Imagine being able to order a glass of wine to be delivered to the top deck at a specific time so you can drink it while enjoying a sunset at sea. Imagine if our amazing staff already knew of your preferences so you don’t need to mention requests or choices again. In future, the medallions could also be used to improve onboard safety and security as well.”