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Shining the spotlight on diversity in the cruise industry

‘If you have too many people of similar minds in one room, it’s not going to drive the company forward,’ remarked Anders Lindström, head of PR & communications, the Americas at Hurtigruten Group.

Lindström was talking during a virtual panel discussion this week by Seatrade Cruise Talks on the occasion of Black History Month in the UK.

Joining the discussion, Odette McFarlane, director homeport operations at Carnival UK shared what DEI means at her employer: 'We want to have an organisation that first and foremost allows individuals to be themselves when they are at work, and be authentically themselves. You want an organisation that will thrive on that diversity, so we want our leadership to reflect our workforce, to reflect our guests.’

Moderator Natasha Bynoe, CEO, The African Diaspora Institute of Cultural Exchange and Historical Research guided Lindström and McFarlane through a broad range of topics on why diversity is important in cruising, why it is a smart business decision and what inclusion looks like in a workplace.

Bynoe also shared her thoughts on the importance of working with local communities to delve into the authentic history of the areas visited by cruise ships:

‘Tapping into historians in these places so that people can get a deeper sense of the history on the ground ... I think this is one of the ways that companies can get these underrepresented stories out by tapping into the university system, tap into local tourism and really try to immerse yourself in this type of history which I think will give a better experience for the traveller as well.'

Diversity drives business

‘Diversity is important on so many levels,' commented Lindström.

‘If you look beyond the ethical point of view ... diversity drives business. A diverse workforce creates a better work place, diversity amongst employees creates a better work environment, and the more diverse approach we take to everything we do creates a better guest experience,’ he said.

McFarlane highlighted the importance of diversity in making business decisions: 'decision making and thought is one of the biggest areas where diversity really makes a massive difference, especially in the way we do things [at Carnival UK], so you don't have the same types of people making those decisions all the time, or they always land in the same place, that is not healthy.'

Lindström shone the light on Hurtigruten’s Black Traveler Advisory Board, launched at the beginning of this year: 'We are in an industry, especially in expedition cruising that is very white, we have to be realistic about that but it is up to us, the players, to change that.’

The advisory board is made up of six leaders in the adventure, outdoor and travel industries, ‘helping us identifying issues, pinpointing a number of ideas and plans we need to do,’ said Lindström.


On the importance of representation in marketing, McFarlane said, 'It can't just be representation for representations sake, it needs to be grounded in something and it needs to reach people... It is really important, it really allows different groups of people to see themselves in spaces that they might not think are for them.'

The full discussion can be watched here: