Cruise Lines Debate: What Makes A Great Guest Experience?

March 15, 2017
The Ocean Medallion will come to the Carnival Corporation fleet in 2017

(2:50 p.m. EDT) -- Cruise lines are in the business of providing you with great vacation experiences, and a panel of industry experts at Seatrade Cruise Global Wednesday weighed on what it takes to create a wonderful guest experience that will have you raving about your cruise on social media and coming back to book yet another vacation at sea.

Princess Cruises is betting that the company's new Ocean Medallion devices and accompanying Ocean Compass digital platform will improve guest experiences by streamlining unwieldy processes, like embarkation, and by providing personal recommendations on activities to do onboard and onshore, said Gordon Ho, Senior Vice President of Global Marketing. The Carnival Corporation's Experience Innovation Center in Miami brings together ship staff, partners and shoreside Carnival staff to work together to solve problems and streamline processes that will impact the onboard experience.

Silverseas focuses on great guest experiences by keeping ships small and passenger counts low, so the experience is more personalized, said Barbara Muckerman, Silversea's Chief Marketing Officer. Butlers tend to passenger needs and make requests based on their interests; people feel the most relaxed when they know they're taken care of, she said. And in an age when people prioritize "experience over opulence," Silversea makes a point to offer a huge number of destination possibilities -- 761 different ports versus the 290 of their closest competitor.

What else can make a great cruise experience? Ho says that the number one driver of happiness is social activity, so meeting people during a shore tour or at an onboard wine tasting can actually improve your vacation. And Ole Kristian Sivertsen, President of Cruise, Ferry and Yacht Services for Global Eagle (a worldwide provider of communications connectivity and media content) said what we all know to be true -- our cruise experience is greatly enhanced when the Wi-Fi signal is strong, our cell phone batteries are full and we can upload photos all day long to social media.

--By Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor