IN JANUARY 2017, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald
was the first travel industry
professional to deliver the
keynote speech at CES,
the consumer electronics
show. He was there to
introduce Carnival’s Ocean
Medallion, a quarter-size
disc that can be worn as a
pendant, wristband or clip or
carried in your pocket.
The Ocean Medallion allows passengers on select Princess Cruises ships to
board easily, receive excursion invitations
based on their interests, book a massage,
make dinner reservations, get their favorite
drink without asking or locate family members anywhere on the ship.
After completing your profile with your
family’s preferences, the Ocean Medallion
shows up in the mail before you leave
home. Once you’re on board it links to
various monitors around the ship. While
it works with your laptop and iPhone, you
don’t need to have them on hand for the
Ocean Medallion to work.
What does that mean in
practical terms? Donald
explains that staff will be
able to do things such as
call you by name or track
your favorite drink or
scheduled activities. Say
you ordered a beverage
on an Alaska cruise and
there’s a whale sighting. If
you head outside to catch a
glimpse of the whales, the drink
will be brought out to you.
Donald gives another example: Imagine
you’re having breakfast and fall into a
deep conversation with fellow passengers.
The waiter can remind you of a yoga class
you signed up for and ask if you’d like to
reschedule or cancel.
“What excites me about it is, it really
has the potential to transform travel. It
allows our crew to be so in tune with you
that you absolutely feel everything was
designed just for you,” says Donald. “It
empowers our crew to deliver on what
they want to do every day, which is
exceed guests’ expectations.”—SEP
Corporation’s board, before taking on the
role of CEO. It was while Donald was in
semi-retirement that Micky Arison, Carnival Corporation’s chairman and then CEO,
asked if he would like the CEO job.
With so many goals achieved, it’s easy
to wonder what challenges remain. For
Donald the answer lies in getting non-cruisers to climb aboard one of the company’s ships. As the chair of Cruise Lines
International Association, he sees himself
as an advocate for the company and the
industry as a whole.
“The reality is, I have a case for cruising, because I know if I get somebody to
consider a cruise, I have at least a 50 percent chance, if not more, of getting them
[on a ship],” he says.
More important than simply attract-
ing passengers is getting passengers on the
right ship for them. “I don’t want some-
body who truly belongs on one of the other
brands on my ship,” Donald explains. “Not
because they’re not good enough sailors or
anything, but because I want their expec-
tations to be exceeded.”
His worst-case scenario is someone
who wants to be pampered in a small-ship,
setting out on a Carnival cruise—which he
describes as the “ultimate social brand.”
“So you get somebody who’s looking for
one thing, they get on that ship and it’s
all about social fun, a lot of kids running
around, and that’s not for them,” he ex-
plains. “The result is that passengers will
say cruising isn’t for them. It’s not cruis-
ing; it’s that particular type of cruise.”
Diving deeper into the differences
between brands, he adds that if Holland
and Princess ships were in the same port,
one ship’s passengers would want to kayak
to a museum, while the other’s would be
more inclined to take a bus.
He explains that cruise line brands
don’t change, but passengers do. And
whether you’re traveling with your chil-
dren, your sweetheart or college friends
will determine which ship is the best
choice. “The brand doesn’t move, and we
don’t try to accommodate all people on one
brand, because a cruise is a community.
It’s not a product,” he notes. “If you get all
those things mixed up on one ship, people
don’t have a good time.”
And really, having a good time is what
it’s all about.
“People on vacation, they just want to
have fun, and they want to make connections and memories,” says Donald. “There’s
romance. There’s just a positive environment, and so we get to do that every day. We
get to make fun every day.” C
“If you listen, listen, listen, the world will reveal
itself to you.