New Royal Caribbean boss eyes synergies with Celebrity Cruises

The new regional boss of Royal Caribbean, Gerard Nolan, says he is exploring opportunities for working more closely with sister brand Celebrity Cruises.

Nolan was announced on Wednesday (June 19) as vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, succeeding Ben Bouldin who becomes president of Royal Caribbean International China from August.

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Nolan has worked at Royal Caribbean Group brand Celebrity Cruises since 2016, most recently as associate commercial vice-president.

“We use the same platforms, we speak to the same players, the teams that support us are the same – so there is a huge amount of synergy in the background,” he told a Travel Weekly webcast.

“With Giles [Hawke] heading up the Celebrity brand [as VP & MD UK, Ireland and EMEA], there’s a real opportunity, not just from the local market but across the European markets – and how we tap into Miami [headquarters] in a bigger way.

“There are common partners that we work with together [and] common distribution that we use, so it’s just thinking about ‘how does the enterprise gain by coming together?’.

“I’ve got a real belief; the team is fantastic. You can see the talent.

“As always, there are bumps in the road. But we’re really skilled at navigating that and we have done that for many years.”

Nolan told the webcast that he had been “blown away” by the reaction to his appointment from trade partners across the UK, Ireland and EMEA region.

“The relationships are there and it something I am looking forward to building upon,” he said.

“It’s an amazing opportunity, the brand that I’m moving into. It is such an exciting time.

“I was sitting on the sidelines, always enviously looking at the Royal brand and what it brings.”

He said he is aiming to “immerse” himself in the brand, spending time with Bouldin on Oasis of the Seas, and then experiencing Utopia of the Seas, which is due to launch in July.

Nolan also reaffirmed the cruise line’s commitment to the travel trade.

“The trade are massively important not just in the UK but across the region,” he said.

“That is very much front and central of where we’re going to be going forward.

“I have been using the Club Royal tools to try to get my knowledge up. I have been blown away to consider how easy we’re trying to make it for our trade partners.”

Nolan is also positive about the return of Independence of the Seas – which will homeport in Southampton next year, following on from Anthem of the Seas in 2024 – because of the ease for customers driving to the port.

Aaron Langford, who took up the role of UK and Ireland senior sales director at the cruise line three weeks ago, agreed.

“[Independence] is a fan favourite in the UK. When we announced that she was coming back, the [pre-registration] was super successful,” he added.

“We’re excited to welcome her back. She’s smaller and older but she’s got the bells and whistles – she’s fabulous.”

Bouldin commented: “When the opportunity for Independence to come back to Southampton for a year was there, you could not believe how many people missed Independence. And we can see that in [the sales].

“It wasn’t a difficult decision to say yes, let’s do that because it’s a very different ship and feel to Anthem.

“There are people that love Anthem, lots of them, but there are equally loads of people that love Independence.

“We’ve been bowled over with the reaction from guests about Independence coming back so these two [Nolan and Langford] are going to have a fantastic year with Independence in Southampton next year.”

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