Captain Patrik Dahlgren is the Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations and Fleet Optimisation for Royal Caribbean Group’s global brands. He will be speaking at the upcoming Cruise Conversations Live 2021 session, ‘We are one cruise industry: standardising health & hygiene’.
We sat down with Patrik for an exclusive speaker Q&A to learn more about his upcoming session, his current role at Royal Caribbean Group, and the future opportunities and trends in cruise hospitality.
Thank you for speaking with the Cruise Ship Interiors Expo team today! Tell us about your current role and what it entails on a day-to-day basis?
I’m the Senior Vice President for Global Marine Operations and Fleet Optimisation for Royal Caribbean Group. My responsibility is for ship operations across all five Royal Caribbean Group cruise brands and all that this entails. In addition, my team provides support with new maritime technology, digital maritime technology, refurbishment, safety, engineering, energy management and sustainability solutions.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy being responsible for and working in an industry that’s responsible for people’s holidays. Sometimes it’s the most important week of their year, sometimes the most important week of their life. It’s about having people coming together from across the world and visiting destinations, seeing cultures and having experiences together. It’s about providing an immersive experience, both for guests and crew.
What inspired you to venture into the marine industry?
I think that in the beginning, because I started on ships, the really big thing was seeing and experiencing the world. I enjoy being able to see different people, cultures, culinary experiences, and locations around the globe. There’s really no better way to travel than in cruise, on a luxurious and experience-based platform travelling to different destinations. That’s what inspired me the most.
The landscape for hospitality has changed massively in the last few years. What challenges or opportunities do you foresee for the future?
I think the cruise industry continues to reinvent itself in terms of attracting different generations. The massive product offerings that you can now have on a ship are perfectly suited for many generations, whether it is from the smallest kids to the oldest retirees. For example, people talk about millennials wanting more of an experience-based travel. You couldn’t find more experience-based than in cruise, of visiting different destinations daily. This goes beyond what any other hospitality sectors can offer.
Cruises can also provide onboard experiences that go beyond what is expected and can appeal to all ages. Whether it is dining or entertainment, that comes to life on board. Cruise has the opportunity to be the future of travel and be an innovator. We look at what exists outside in the world, what doesn’t exist and ask, what if?
In the cruise hospitality industry, forecasting future trends is vital to stay on top of the game. What trends are you expecting to emerge in the next few years? This could be anything from digitising guest experiences to health and hygiene innovations or sustainable solutions and beyond!
People want to feel safe in these times and I think that’s going to stay with us forever. There’s always going to be a continuous evolution of knowledge in both COVID-19 and other potential diseases. The uniqueness of cruise is that it’s a safe and controllable environment and we certainly have proven that. We already had a strong platform with controlling viruses and other diseases on board for many years by working with health experts. I recently had the fortune of being assigned to sit on the Healthy Sail Panel together with the greatest minds and leaders in public health, epidemiology, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations. The result after 10 months of continuous work with this team produced a public 65 page document with recommendations. It was interesting to see how cruise has managed to be the lighthouse for all travel, going beyond the safety protocols that are in place without denting into the experience that guests will have on board.
This goes way beyond just washing hands and wearing masks. There’s recently been a lot of innovations like improving air quality on board. If you look at the upgrades we did to our ships, we added double filtration and air handling units controlled by each area and by each stateroom and cabin. We now have close to hospital standards of air quality on our ships, which goes way beyond what you have in any other form of travel. We have also made sure this doesn’t impact guest experience. On our 40 ships that are operating now, we have record breaking Net Promotor Scores that are unheard of in travel.
Next month you’ll be speaking at Cruise Conversations Live 2021. Without giving too much away, can you tell us what we might expect from your session?
I think, first of all, what you will see is that other speakers in the session are coming from other cruise lines who are perceived as competitors. But you will find that we are very much aligned in regards to public health and safety. We work very closely together, and I’m certainly looking forward to speaking at the session and seeing amazing colleagues and friends from the industry while sharing what everybody’s doing. I think that’s the biggest thing people will see, that the cruise industry has always been close, particularly in these times and do not compete within safety, environment and public health.
Finally, we have to ask, what are you most looking forward to at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Miami?
For me it’s connecting with colleagues, friends, and other like-minded people who love cruising and the industry overall. Because ultimately, at Royal Caribbean Group, it’s not just about what we do. It cannot be done without our partners and suppliers. This is an industry that’s very much about partnership in creating these amazing ships and vacation experiences. So, I’m looking forward to seeing the massive size of people that support the cruise industry together again.
Cruise Conversations Live 2021 is a free to attend, two-day conference taking place at Cruise Ship Interiors Expo. Register for free to attend CSI and unite with the cruise interiors community in Miami.