BevX 2022: Norwegian Sails and Sustains
Covid was particularly rough on the cruise industry: Norwegian Cruise Line paused operations beginning March 2020 and resumed business in the summer of 2021. “As with many industries, we have also been affected by supply-chain issues,” says Wesley Cort, vice president of food and beverage operations.
“However, our onboard operations have the ability to modify menus as needed based on product availability. The team also has the flexibility to substitute products as needed and often source products locally, which adds to a positive guest experience and has been well received by our guests.”
Upon Norwegian’s return to service, the goal was to enhance the overall guest experience by introducing new initiatives and experiences focused on sustainability, enhancing room service selections and ordering processes. The company, the 2022 BevX winner for best Multi-concept Hospitality Beverage Program, is also committed to crew and team member learning and development.
Pre-cruise, Norwegian offers customers a “Free at Sea” promotion, which includes amenities such as free open bar, free specialty dining package and shore excursion credits. On-cruise, specialty beverage events such as tastings and spirit experiences aim to drive elevated consumer perception and sales.
Beverage packages ensure all customers have variety and value during the cruise, while programs such as cocktails on tap provide a consistent, fast experience for guests, as well as a short wait time.
Different venues offer specialized drinks. At the Ice Bar, inspired by the original ice hotels in Scandinavia, guests chill out in a 17-degree arctic chamber where the bars, walls, seats and glasses are all made from ice. Sugarcane, a Mojito bar, offers a rum-inspired menu featuring freshly muddled mojitos and a unique Mojito Flight.
The Haven Lounge is home to the most luxurious accommodations on the ship. It features a private bar with the Bespoke Cocktail Program for custom-made cocktails tailored to individual guests. On the more casual side, the District Brewhouse offers more than 22 draft beers and over 50 bottled beers, from a seasonal light lager to a craft IPA.
Sights on sustainability
While Norwegian has introduced a number of new updates to its beverage program as the ships have relaunched, Cort highlights the cruise line’s efforts in sustainability.
“The most impactful change to our beverage offerings was the introduction of the Brand’s Sail and Sustain program,” he says. “This program features responsibly crafted zero-waste cocktails prepared with surplus ingredients such as coffee grinds, banana and orange peels.”
The program has proven to be a success and has been popular with Norwegian’s guests. “As part of the beverage experience, we provide our guests an overview of the Sail and Sustain program detailing thoughtful curated recipes for cocktails that are created responsibly and sustainably,” Cort says.
Along with a renewed focus on sustainability, all of these initiatives have paid dividends to Norwegian. The cruise line is projected to increase room service revenue with the new SWIFT delivery program by at least 20% across the fleet for the year 2022 and has also reduced printing cost on board with the use of electric iPad menus and QR code implementation.
“We typically look at guest satisfaction scores when analyzing the success of our product and program,” notes Cort. “We also look at guest testimonials, which have been overwhelmingly positive.”
Guest responses speak for themselves: Recorded scores for service satisfaction in shipboard bars and lounges exceeded target expectations, increasing 16 points on average from January 2020 to January 2022.
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