Norwegian's crew members are a vital part of the cruise brand's success
This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2019 issue of Spring/Summer 2019 issue of International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Norwegian Cruise Line continues to build upon its success. Last year, it christened Breakaway Plus-class ship Norwegian Bliss while her sister, Norwegian Encore, is currently under construction at Meyer Werft’s yard in Germany ahead of her delivery this November. The company has also contracted Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri to build six new Leonardo-class ships, which will be delivered between 2022 and 2027. This next-generation class of ships will build upon the success of the Breakaway Plus-Class ships.
The priority of the prototype design is energy efficiency, with Norwegian aiming to optimise fuel consumption and reduce the ships’ environmental impact. The smaller footprint will also broaden deployment opportunities across the globe.
While the state-of-the-art technology will help these new ships to become popular with guests, the most important factor for their success lies somewhere else. According to the company’s vice president of Ship Personnel Mark Kansley, success lies in the crew and the quality of their training.
“One of the most important elements of a great cruise experience is an excellent crew to make it all happen,” he explains. “Norwegian’s crew members often play a starring role in cruise guests’ vacations, and it’s no surprise, this is by design.”
Norwegian Bliss, for example, was a big success for Norwegian and this was largely due to its crew training programme. “Following the launch of Norwegian Bliss, we received an overwhelming response from our guests about how the service onboard was incredible,” says Kansley. “These individuals go above and beyond to ensure the most memorable guest experience. Seeing our guests pleased with our service, and ultimately their cruise vacation, is what makes our team happy.”
In total Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which also operates Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, employs more than 30,000 shipboard crew from over 110 different countries. This requires a comprehensive and organised training programme. “Each ship in our global fleet of 16 requires between 800 – 1,740 crew members, which means we recruit a lot of people,” says Kansley. “We work diligently to find service-oriented and hospitality-focused individuals who will ensure our guests receive the highest quality of service every time they cruise with us.”
The Vacation Hero programme is a good example of how Norwegian incentivises its crew and ensures job satisfaction. On a monthly basis, supervisors and management select onboard team members and rewards them for demonstrating excellence in service, teamwork, attitude and leadership.
Every cruise line has its strengths and Kansley believes that Norwegian’s lies in the fact that it has a family-oriented culture where the crew are looked after and can rely on excellent support. “Norwegian is known as an innovator in the industry and leads in providing an environment where employees can find themselves among friends and family,” he explains. “At Norwegian, we are a close-knit family that respects everyone and we continuously help each other grow. That’s why we provide our crew members with comprehensive training, competitive contracts and benefits, and opportunities for career progression.”
Training crew for a new ship can be a difficult process, so Norwegian has developed a very specific methodology. “For every new ship, we take about 10-15% of the crew from our other ships to ensure we provide our guests with the same level of service they are accustomed to,” comments Kansley.
In this way, experienced staff can create a good work ethic and provide the right environment to encourage less experienced crew to thrive. Norwegian actually has crew members that have been with the company for over 15 years. And it is proud to welcome team members back year after year. “These people are the core and they are invaluable in providing training and mentoring,” says Kansley.
Norwegian also implements initiatives across its fleet to allow crew members to learn about jobs in other departments. “This gives employees a chance for new opportunities and progression in the company,” says Kansley. “The best thing about working for Norwegian is the company’s culture and phenomenal leadership. Whether you step onboard a ship or into a shoreside office, you feel a sense of togetherness, friendship and contentment.”
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