Director Destination Management & Operations
Please describe your position and role in the cruise industry.
After building up the departments Port & Ground Operations and Shore Excursions at TUI Cruises over the past 10 years, I now focus on the area of destination management, a field which needs more attention as our company has grown substantially. Together with my team we are responsible for the strategy and organization for shore excursions and activities in approx. 170 ports worldwide.
How long have you been in the cruise industry and what other roles/positions have you held?
I have been in the shipping industry since 1989: I started my career at the Swedish ferry line Stena Line in Kiel and moved to the cruise industry in 1993 working for the premium cruise line Peter Deilmann Reederei for several years (first in sales and later in the shore ex department). After that I spent one year in a totally different industry. However, very soon I felt how much I missed this business. Sometimes you need a sidestep to become aware of what you really love. In 2008 I joined the newly found joint venture TUI Cruises.
Please describe a contribution you or your company has made to the cruise industry that you are proud of.
I am very proud of the fact that all our service providers really like working with us. All praise the very organized way we work and that we are very much to the point when it comes communicate our demands. I think especially our efforts in turn around operations and terminal set-up, shore excursion dispatch and creating viable solutions for missing German speaking guides are quite unique to us.
But also in terms of environmental aspects I do think that TUI Cruises set milestones e.g. by its exhaust gas cleaning technologies. Six out of seven are equipped with the latest technologies. We are proud to say that we have the youngest and most environmental friendly fleet in the industry at the moment.
Name a “highlight” in your career.
My personal highlight has definitely been building up TUI Cruises. We were five people when we started, today TUI Cruises employs around 500 people. Our first CEO, Richard Vogel, had great trust in the start-up team. He shared his vision with us and infected us by the spirit. Together with the teams following we were the ones building the groundwork of the well-being cruise line in the premium class segment, which we are today.
What do you believe is the most significant advancement in the cruise industry – specifically in your area of expertise?
When I started within shore ex there was no diversity. In every place we came, we found a similar offer of standard tours, focused on the interests and needs of an older clientele. However, this corresponded with the market demographics at that time. This has changed: With a wide offer of excursions including bike trips and other we attract a more diverse clientele.
I am also extremely proud of our very strong animal welfare guidelines for shore excursions, which are defining minimal requirements for animals managed, and/or dependent upon human beings. Additionally we have defined a code of conduct for dive and snorkeling excursions in order to protect the sensitive marine environment. I think most of us in the industry are very well aware of the environmental and social responsibility we are holding in this world for our children.
Looking forward, what are some predictions for the future in your sector of the cruise industry?
We will have to deal with more berth congestions as more and more larger cruise ships will be put into service over the next years. I think all cruise lines are following different strategies in dealing with these challenges. We also strongly have to monitor that shore ex capacities and quality of delivery in the regions are growing in the same pace with than additional berths are built / extended
Who do you believe has made an impact on the cruise industry? Describe how.
Cruising has gone through an evolution of being an elitist form of travelling for the upper-class. Today the marked offers cruises of any kind, any size and for every pocket. I am still a great fan of the book “Devils on the Deep Blue Sea” - The Dreams, Schemes, and Showdowns That Built America's Cruise-Ship Empires“. This book describes the rise of cruise in the early sixties until the early eighties and its development to a real industry as it is today. I think all the players at that time had and do have a remarkable impact on today’s cruise industry.
What is the biggest challenge in the cruise industry as it relates to your sector and how would you address it?
The so called „overtourism“ is a overall challenge for the tourism industry we are part of as more and more people discover the world‘s most beautiful places.
However, cruise guests only make out a small percentage in most destinations and ports. As cruise ships are very visible in the ports, the perception might be misleading. Therefore, our main task is to further build up the communication with local communities and media in order to put this into perspective and of course jointly work on solutions to create positive experiences for both guests and inhabitants.