Cruise & Ferry Interiors 2020

1 2 KEYNOTE Team building Building innovative ships is a team effort. Jon Ingleton speaks with Paris Swann and Sascha Lang of the Royal Caribbean group about their collaborative approach T he Royal Caribbean group has a rich pool of shipbuilding talent, led by the champion of cruise industry innovation, Richard Fain, and featuring executives Harri Kulovaara and Kelly Gonzalez. We spoke with two more of the team’s star players – Paris Swann, associate vice president, architectural design for Celebrity Cruises and TUI Cruises, and Sascha Lang, vice president architectural and design at Royal Caribbean International – to find out about the group’s collaborative approach. Lang and Swann recognise their good fortune in being part of a great team: “Our most valuable asset for innovation is Richard Fain. He’s a visionary who demands that we continuously strive for higher standards,” says Lang. “Through Richard, Michael Bayley and other members of the executive steering committee, we realise that the sky isn’t really the limit and that knowledge motivates creativity and excellence.” Swann agrees: “Our chairman is our designer-in-chief, he and Lisa Lutoff- Perlo are both incredibly passionate about design. The entire leadership team are deeply engaged in every phase of a build or revitalisation project, including the selection of every last detail. But they also trust in the team and in our process.” Swann and Lang are both quick to deflect attention from their own achievements in favour of the group. “We collaborate with every department in the business and everyone makes a valuable contribution. Of course, we have a particularly strong connection with hotel operations so that we’re aligned on what the product is meant to be, how it works and how it speaks to our guests,” says Swann. “But nowadays we have regular reviews through the building cycle with every team. With the marketing department, for example, we need to know that our design fits within their notion of what will improve the guest experience and differentiate our ships from the rest of the market.” Lang has a similar outlook: “We are all equal partners in these projects, working as one team towards a common goal.” A key milestone in the design process is finalising the vision, says Swann: “Once we’ve established our ambition and coalesced every stakeholder behind this common objective, it becomes much easier to tie in all of the nebulous parts of the project, develop a concept design and move on to a master plan.” External alliances are typically formed around the relationship with the shipyard. “For newbuild projects we work closely with our three big shipyard partners and their supply chains. Our role is more focused on evaluating and auditing outfitters and suppliers to support the yards and make sure that the vendors chosen meet our high standards,” says Lang. “We have a wide network of trusted partnerships, built and nurtured over many years.” Swann says: “There’s a very clearly defined split between what the shipyard has to provide and what the owner will specify. We don’t procure everything that you see on the ships, much of it is part of the product that the yard provides. We’re still