Richard Turen
Richard Turen

Last week, I sat down with Dave Weedinar of the new Titanic Cruise Lines at his headquarters in Burlington, Vt. Our conversation unfolded thusly:

Richard Turen: Well, thanks for meeting with me, I don't get very many one-on-one interviews with cruise line CEOs.

Dave Weedinar: I've read some of your stuff, so I can understand why.

RT: I've got to start with the name of your new cruise line. Is "Titanic" really a positive image for the cruise industry?

DW: I think I get where you're going with that, Richard. I will tell you that our marketing team tossed this around for a few minutes. We're going for name recognition, and I think we've got it.

RT: I was wondering why your corporate headquarters is in Vermont. Most of the other cruise lines are based in Florida or California.

DW: That would explain why I never run into cruise people in downtown Burlington. 

RT: Well now, let me get this straight: Your three ships are, according to the fact sheet your PR person sent me, registered in Mogadishu. That would be Somalia?

DW: That's right, Richard. These other cruise ships are registered in weird places like the Bahamas or Grand Cayman. But here's why we went with the Mogadishu registry: No Somali pirates are ever going to try to highjack one of our ships. Because if they did, they would then have to negotiate with themselves to free the passengers. 

RT: I understand that your deployment plans for the ships are somewhat unique.

DW: The Nina will sail out of Hoboken on a seven-night itinerary that includes three nights in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and three nights in Nassau.

RT: I can see where an itinerary like that will save you fuel costs as well as food costs. But will it sell?

DW: Our market research says it will. Trust me, these other cruise lines move their ships around too much. People want to get off, smell the smoke, play with the locals. 

RT: What about your other two ships?

DW: We will be doing an itinerary that we call Appreciative Europe. We are only going to be sailing to those European countries that actually appreciate what we in the United States have done for them. 

RT: So what ports will the Pinta be visiting in Europe?

DW: So far, we've found one town in Ireland. But unfortunately, it's inland. The nearest port is 170 miles away. Come back to me on that one, Richard.

RT: I will. How about the Santa Maria?

DW: She's our flagship. We call her "Big Fatty." She will be based in the Virgin Islands.

RT: Anything you care to tell us about her facilities? I hear that you have some unusual approaches to entertainment and dining.

DW: Well, Richard, I hope this is not going to turn into another one of your snippy interviews. I don't think our approach is unusual. I think some of the expensive attractions you see on the other lines -- like rock climbing walls, parks, indoor skating rinks, WaveRunners, waterfalls -- will never work. Is Royal Caribbean still in business?

RT: Actually, yes, and they are very successful, as are their newest ships with the facilities you are describing.

DW: Hmm, I didn't know that. I will start reading Travel Weekly more carefully. But no one has what we have on the Santa Maria. The ocean's largest food automat. Little glass windows with small plates of food. Guests use tokens to get their food. The higher your cabin category, the more tokens you get and the more you get to eat. It is going to be like one big game of "Survivor."

RT: So all of your food will be self service?

DW: Misquote. I didn't say that. We will have an onboard Applebee's for those seeking fine dining.

RT: I want to thank you for this exclusive interview. I see it's snowing outside, so I'll wish you success and head back to Florida.

DW: Thanks, Richard. Don't slip on the ice in the parking lot. We're always watchful of ice here at Titanic. 

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