Some while ago I did a post about the takeover of Prestige Cruising, whose brands are the decidedly upmarket lines Oceania and Regent Seven Seas, by NCL. At that time I said that there was some concern among regular customers of Oceania and Regent Seven Seas that NCL would either ‘dumb them down’ or reduce the quality, so that they could recoup their investment (around $3bn). I also pointed out that NCL’s management had assured their new Prestige Cruises customer base that this wasn’t going to happen.
There’s been an interesting development announced today. Kevin Sheehan, the President and CEO of NCL Holdings, has resigned. He’s the person who oversaw the procurement of Prestige Cruises as well as other significant things, and basically turned NCL into a profitable company. What’s especially interesting in the context of the previous discussion – maintaining the quality of the Prestige Cruises brands – is that he is being succeeded by Frank del Rio, Chief Executive of Prestige. So no more than a few months after the takeover, the person previously running the taken-over entity will be running the whole, combined show. I think that will greatly reassure the Prestige Cruises customers.
Update: reactions on the various Cruise Critic forums has been varied. On the Regent Seven Seas forum there is apparently some unhappiness from some people about Frank del Rio’s stewardship of RSSC as head of Prestige, so they’re not overjoyed that he will now be managing the whole enterprise. Some people posting on the NCL forum are worried that NCL itself will be taken upmarket, with price increases to match (I really can’t see that happening – NCL have an awful of berths to fill every night). The only area that’s expressing unalloyed joy is the Oceania forum. This isn’t surprising – Mr del Rio was the boss of Oceania before it was taken over by Prestige, and before that held a senior position at Renaissance Cruises, the builders of the R ships and Oceania’s spiritual ancestor.
There’s still no real explanation as to why Mr Sheehan resigned. Given that his tenure in charge of NCL was very successful, his departure is quite surprising.