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Published in: Cruise News

“We are putting a lot of time into research and consumer insight and listening to our customers and crew, while also looking at hospitality industry trends, because ultimately our competition is not other cruise lines, but land-based resorts,” said Rai Caluori, executive vice president of guest experience and product development for Princess Cruises and responsible for the brand’s newbuild program.

“The Ocean Medallion technology will also provide us with so much data about the behavior and movement of our guests. That data will be powerful in determining where we put our resources into the newbuilds.

“And lastly,” he added, “is gut instinct. You always need to take a leap of faith and bring in innovation that perhaps has not been tried and tested.”

Caluori, who has been with Princess for some 35 years, was named to his current position after the creation of the Holland America Group in 2014, but has since relinquished the marine and technical day-to-day operations and shifted his focus to the guest experience, future product development and newbuilds.

“I have oversight over the holistic guest experience aboard the ships, and since two years ago I am pretty much devoting all my time to the newbuilds – ensuring the successful delivery of the three remaining Royal-class ships, and the recently announced memorandum of agreement with Fincantieri for two prototype ships at 175,000 tons each for deliveries in 2023 and 2025.

“We have a very good team and I think one of the strengths of Princess particularly, and I think you can apply this to many cruise lines, is that there is such a high degree of tenure, which means we have innate and embedded experience that we balance with new talent,” Caluori continued.

“And we have significant resources within Carnival Corporation, not least with Carnival Shipbuilding in Southampton. They facilitate the newbuild process in collaboration with all the brands and the Holland America Group. I can also tap into any of the other brands’ experience by just picking up the phone.

“As I said, we are focused on the guest experience and will layer the Ocean Medallion on top of that which will take the brand essence to an even higher level,” he added. (The Ocean Medallion is a wearable device meant to function as a personal concierge for guests, featuring way-finding, food and beverage ordering, entertainment, and other functions. The 1.8 ounce disk is about the size of a quarter.)

Caluori is also focused on what he called moving technologies, making sure the ships are as efficient as possible, and also compliant with the company’s internal sustainability and environmental programs.

“It is easy to fall into a trap of bells and whistles,” he said. “We think first about what the guest experience in the cabin shall be and what they want, rather than creating form over function.

“There will also be more focus on the closeness to the sea as we go forward. When you are on a vessel you should have a sense of being on a ship, instead of looking inboard. We are on the ocean and this we have to protect. There is nothing better than being on a ship at sea; it is the most amazing feeling.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Winter 2018-2019

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