As Adam Goldstein settles in as president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., he talks to Michele Witthaus about his new job and his proudest achievements for the Royal Caribbean International brand
As president and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.’s leading cruise brand since 2002, Adam Goldstein had successfully navigated a wide variety of market conditions when his new role in the global organisation was announced in April. It seems a good time to ask him what achievements the change of title will enable – and what goals he still has for Royal Caribbean International before his successor is named.
“One of the primary attractions of the new role for me is the opportunity to be very broadly involved over the whole organisation,” says Goldstein. “I absolutely loved being responsible for the team at Royal Caribbean International, but my interest after doing that for 12 years was to figure out a way to be involved in all of the brands and big challenges facing the business. So the new role will allow me to do that.”
A particular focus for him will be working with the members of the shared services group for which he has taken on direct responsibility. “This will include extending the shared services footprint to be more encompassing of some of our other brands. I want to make sure we are supporting the company through its global expansion, particularly in Asia, but also in general.”
He remarks: “I was a customer of the shared services group for almost 25 years; now suddenly I’m a provider of the shared services and so it will be a new and different experience.”
During the period of transition before a new Royal Caribbean International president is announced, it is business as usual where the brand is concerned for Goldstein. “In the interim period, both Richard Fain and I are very available to work with the leadership team,” he says. “It is a very busy and exciting time in the months leading up to delivery of Quantum of the Seas. I’m very happy to work with the team towards those goals.”
Delivering the Quantum class will be a fitting high on which to hand over day-to-day management of the cruise line. “I think there is a real fascination with the Quantum class that is building up as we proceed toward deliveries of Quantum and Anthem of the Seas,” says Goldstein. “We can see now that these ships have emerged in the theoretical shadow of Oasis and Allure of the Seas and they live on their own as really noteworthy new ships. In February, Anthem of the Seas became the fastest selling UK-based ship for Royal Caribbean International and it will be the most technologically advanced cruise ship ever to be based in Europe when it is launched in spring 2015.”
Indeed, he is delighted to see the brand’s European investments paying off. The UK market in particular has enjoyed special favour with the Anthem of the Seas homeport announcement. “We’ve been very logical and disciplined in how we’ve built up our presence in Southampton over 10 years, starting with Legend of the Seas and working up to Independence of the Seas,” remarks Goldstein. “We’ve added two ships at a time and now Anthem of the Seas is one of those. It’s been very deliberate and very successful. The UK market is still today the number two cruise market in the world after the US.” Explorer of the Seas is also to homeport in Southampton from 2015 and Brilliance of the Seas will call Harwich home.
The rolling programme of ship revitalisations is also still demanding a lot of his attention. From 2011 to 2013, a total of 12 ships have been refurbished with an additional two ships receiving makeovers in 2014. “The Navigator of the Seas drydock in January this year was a very important step in our revitalisation programme because in addition to adding or renewing many of the features on board, we added a significant number of staterooms and that was a pretty major construction project,” says Goldstein. “We also added a new suite type. We’ve had a very positive reception to everything we did.”
He observes: “Once we focused on what we could take back from the newest classes to the older classes of cruise ships, we realised that there was much more that we could do than we had understood. What we have been able to take in terms of adding speciality restaurants, entertainment venues, nurseries and all kinds of technology, is really making these ships significantly enhanced. Navigator of the Seas is a truly refreshed ship and she’s only 11 years old. So we’re very pleased and will continue to push forward with our programme.”
For the brand, the onboard experience is constantly pushing at the barriers of what is possible through technology and Goldstein is excited about the future. “In general the trend towards more options, more variety and more choice will continue. I’m certain of that.”
This plays out in new approaches to guest facilities, the bookings process and even the company’s external communications. From ‘why didn’t we think of that’ innovations such as the first ever virtual balconies on a cruise ship to Goldstein’s own use of Google Hangouts and even Buzzfeed to share Royal Caribbean news, along with facilitation of onboard connectivity and multiplatform availability of brochures, the company is clearly keen to demonstrate familiarity with the technological zeitgeist on many levels.
“There’s no longer a difference between the onboard customer experience and the marketing process,” he remarks. “Everything has fused together and customers are evaluating all of our communications, all of our touch points. In that environment, technology is clearly going to play a vital enabling role. We’re investing in a wide range of technologies because they very much enhance our interaction with our customers.”
The virtual balcony coup is one way in which technology is revolutionising previously ‘negative’ experiences, he says. “We have figured out how to take something that’s a total constraint – that if you buy an inside stateroom you don’t see anything – and come up with technology that breaks the constraint. We determined that we would place virtual balconies on all the inside staterooms on Quantum of the Seas, and we thought, since there’s a big revitalisation taking place on Navigator, why don’t we put in some virtual balconies and see how it goes? Now we see it goes very well and we’re super happy about it.”
This article appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2014 edition of International Cruise & Ferry Review. To read the full article, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.