Executive View: Jan Swartz

Jan Swartz
Jan Swartz

Jan Swartz is president of the Holland America Group and president of Princess Cruises

The former CEO of Intel, Andy Grove, said, "Bad companies are destroyed by crises; good companies survive them; great companies are improved by them." I would say that during this pause in operations we are absolutely strengthening the brands of Carnival Corp. and also strengthening our procedures to protect the health of our guests and shipboard teammates and the communities we visit.

The virus continues to take its toll on the world, and there will continue to be uncertainty and adjustments. The four cruise lines [in Holland America Group: Princess, Holland America, Seabourn and P&O Australia] sail to all seven continents, and we sell in most of the major markets around the world. We're seeing quite a disparity between countries in the level of community transmission, and that affects how each of those communities thinks about reopening travel. The U.S. and Europe are seeing spikes in Covid-19 whilst on the other end of the world, in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia, community transmission is low to none at the moment. To plan our business, we're in active conversations with the health and regulatory bodies and key stakeholders in all our major markets, because when we return to service, we want to make sure that we're in total alignment with those stakeholders and that we have all agreed to practices and layers of protection that will enable us to host a safe, comfortable and wonderful vacation experience.

Our plans will adapt as our stakeholders' views change. The vaccine shipments have started. We're hopeful that by late spring-slash-summer, the combination of low community transmission plus acceleration of vaccine distribution will result in more ships sailing successfully from different countries around the world.

Cruise lines, working closely through CLIA, are laying a framework of practices and policies that will ensure cruising can be as safe a vacation -- if not more so -- than other vacation alternatives. The industry is working in a coordinated fashion, and each line's unique plan will be determined by which markets in the world they source from and their respective estimated timing of starting in those markets, based on their stakeholder conversations.

We continue to progress with our larger strategic initiatives, including the planned deliveries of the Holland America Line Rotterdam in August of 2021, the Seabourn Venture in December of '21 as well as the Discovery Princess.

Princess's entire fleet will be Medallion Class-activated, our next-level guest experience, which takes advantage of the ship as a smart city to allow everything from touchless payment to on-demand services, anywhere on the ship.

Many of the things enabled by Medallion Class cruising are particularly well-suited in a Covid-19 environment. We'll be evaluating plans for which brands might come next [for the technology] at Carnival Corp., but as of this moment, we're focused on finishing the rest of the Princess fleet. Given all the travel restrictions, this has been quite a journey and accomplishment for our innovation and fleet teams.

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