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Princess Cruises will emerge advantaged by MedallionClass: Swartz

'We feel well-prepared to take care of our guests on our return to service,' Jan Swartz said
Princess Cruises will return to service 'significantly advantaged' because MedallionClass cruising was forward-thinking and anticipated customer trends, Holland America Group CEO Jan Swartz said.

When Princess stopped sailing, it had five MedallionClass ships. When it resumes, the whole fleet will be implemented.

Touchless services

During the pause, the technology was pushed to deliver even more touchless services and, through the OceanNow feature, travelers can order food, beverages, retail and services anywhere on board.

'All of those things are made possible because of further development on our OceanMedallion platform, so we feel well-prepared to take care of our guests on our return to service,' Swartz said in her keynote at Seatrade Cruise Virtual: Tech & Innovation on Wednesday.

This facilitates guests who will want to keep physical distance or have dinner outside by the pool, for example.

Personalized, on-demand services people expect

'We now will have a fleet of floating smart cities that by using cutting-edge, world-class invisible technology we allow every single guest to engage in more effortless, personalized and truly touchless experiences,' Swartz elaborated, from swift embarkation to safety mustering to on-demand services that after COVID-19 people expect as part of their lifestyle.

She pointed out that service today is decreasingly tied to a specific place or time. When it comes to dining, people have grown accustomed to ordering from Uber Eats whenever they want.

'Consumers expect to get what they want, when they want, where they want it,' Swartz said, so on-demand services will be a priority going forward.

In addition, tremendous effort by Princess and the Carnival Corp. & plc team led by John Padgett has been put into defining protocols so embarkation and mustering are handled in new ways that are more responsive to the health requirements of this time.

Tech investments haven't stopped

Swartz noted that strategic companies like Carnival Corp. pressed on with key initiatives even during the pause, as evidenced by completing the MedallionClass implementation.

This decision was based on 'the criticality of continuous improvement and investment in support of our guest experience and our team member experience.'

Criterion for investment

A criterion for technology investment is that it radically enhances guest experience, including supporting team members who provide that.

Swartz said the leisure sector's future is in truly personalized experiences, as exemplified by Amazon, Netflix and other platforms that get to know people well and serve up more relevant content in the digital world.

'So people will expect that in the fused digital-physical world of cruising,' she continued. Swartz added that most letters she receives relate to team members who made a difference, so a thrust of development will entail supporting crew to deliver better, more personalized service.

Changes in ship design post-pandemic

'With smart cities, we have complete location-based awareness, which allows us to study the flows of our guests or our teammates in revolutionary ways,' Swartz said. She anticipates use of that learning will give insight to inform newbuild design.

Seatrade Cruise Virtual moderator Ian Richardson, CEO of theICEway, asked Swartz to rate her confidence on a scale of one to 10 that in 2023, ships will be full and cruising will be continuing on its pre-pandemic growth trend.

'By 2023, an 11,' Swartz said. 'Cruising offers an extraordinary vacation value ... and wonderful guest experiences. Our net promoter scores as an industry demonstrate how high-performing cruises are versus land-based vacation alternatives. I have every confidence that we will continue to see great growth and consumer interest.'

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