Thursday, 16 April 2015

Reinventing Norwegian

Reinventing Norwegian

Perhaps no company has had more revolution in the top management than Norwegian Cruise Line, which has had to structure new roles for executives following the $3.03 billion acquisition of Prestige Cruise Holdings and its two brands, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

Closing the deal in November set off a cascade of changes that began with a new corporate structure under a parent company, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH). 

Next, Prestige President Kunal Kamlani resigned, followed two months later by NCLH CEO Kevin Sheehan.

With former Prestige Chairman and CEO Frank Del Rio stepping up to take Sheehan's place, openings were created for Stuart, 51, and Montague, 41, to step into brand president roles. 

Stuart, a 27-year Norwegian Cruise Line veteran with a long history on the sales side of the company, said in an interview after being promoted that he would continue to be more involved in sales than the average brand president.

"The key part of this role really is driving demand for the brand," Stuart said. "I'm going to be very, very involved with travel partners."

For their part, travel agents are thrilled to have Stuart in such a high-profile role because, said Signature's Sharpe, they credit him with the line's "Partners First" initiative and its support for the agent distribution channel.

"I keep getting members calling me," Sharpe said. "They're so happy for him and for us."

Only time will tell whether all the change at the top is ultimately good for the cruise industry and travel retailers. But like Sharpe, Wall is optimistic that the positive energy of new blood will outweigh the loss of experience and institutional memory at some lines.

"It's easy to have tunnel vision and automatically assume the way to go is the way it's always been," Wall said.

Coggins, too, said that on balance the changes are positive. 

"If you bring someone in from another industry, they come with fresh ideas," Coggins said. "They bring the perspective that will help attract the first-time cruiser."