Training: How to meet our International guests

What you may consider to be neutral may be perceived as rude by someone else. And what you consider to be the right behaviour in a specific situation may cause eyebrows to be raised by people from another culture. Culture is a very powerful factor in encounters between people from different parts of the world, and therefore also in the encounters between our staff on board and the many Asian guests we are very happy to welcome every year.

“We service 135,000 guests from countries such as South Korea, China and Japan, and we expect numbers to grow in the years to come. Therefore we need to keep improving our cultural understanding of their way of interacting with us, so that we replace the risk of frustration with positive interest and satisfaction among our guests, as well as our staff who work hard to deliver a first-class service,” says Kim Heiberg, Route Director.

Cultural awareness training
And support is at hand: in recent months, 264 colleagues in the Cruise Route organisation participated in cultural awareness sessions facilitated by Véronique Havrehed and Emma Nordström from Training & Development. The focus was on main cultural dimensions, how cultural differences affect our behaviours, sharing best practices and on concrete actions to constantly improve our offers and services to our international guests.

“It was very well-received. Our colleagues working on shore in the port office and on board in the Guest Service Centre, accommodation, shops, restaurants and bars were all deeply engaged in the discussions, asking questions, sharing their experiences and discussing practical ways to improve communication and smooth interactions with guests of different nationalities,” says Emma.

The training was led by Véronique, who spent 17 years working and living in Asia, and has facilitated many training sessions on cross-cultural collaboration in her career. She was supported by Emma Nordström who has over three years’ experience of working on board Pearl Seaways and King Seaways, and has conducted leadership and service training for the cruise routes in recent years.

Strengthening the value proposition of Copenhagen – Oslo

A company’s value proposition describes the number one reason why the products and services offered are best suited for its customers. Recently, colleagues from Cruise Route Management and BU Group Passenger (BUGP) were invited onto Crown Seaways to a cross-functional workshop facilitated by BUGP’s Business Development & Strategy team. The aim was to review the current value proposition of the Copenhagen – Oslo route and strengthen it for future growth.

“Today we serve a wide variety of customers with very different needs: from Asian group customers to affluent Norwegian couples and multi-generation families traveling with grandparents and kids,” says Kim Heiberg, Cruise Route Director. “In order to give our customers an extraordinary and unique experience, we need to really understand what it is that guests from Denmark, the Scandinavian countries and beyond are interested in and value when they travel with us.”

In preparation for the workshop, personas were created to represent a mixture of different customer segments. To make their characteristics as realistic as possible, they were based on quantified customer data from the Nordic Customer Insights Project, which is led by Claus H Pedersen, Head of Insights & Strategy in BUGP. Qualified customer data from observations on board Pearl Seaways was also included by Business Development & Strategy. A detailed competitor analysis completed the preparation, to understand which value proposition our direct competitors in Oslo offer.

“We managed to kick off an exciting journey with the aim of creating incremental value as well as new growth opportunities for Copenhagen – Oslo by aligning our products and services with customer needs,” says Marc-Philipp Päper, Head of Business Development & Customer Experience in BUGP. “I’d like to express my thanks to Jessica Löhr, Karola Morel, Lena Gilster and Gary Andrews from Business Development & Strategy for the intense weeks of preparation prior to the workshop!”

For those interested in the methodology – What is value proposition design?

The tool and methodology used during the workshop is called the ‘Value Proposition Canvas’. It is a methodology used by many successful customer-driven enterprises around the world. The basic idea behind value proposition design is to create or adapt your products and services so that they totally meet your (potential) customer’s needs and thus create a better customer experience. You can read about it on or get in touch with the Business Development & Strategy team in BUGP.


Training & Development initiates leadership training on cruise routes

Based on Project Starlight and the new organisational structure on board the cruise routes, which we reported on in May, Training & Development (T&D) has put together a tailor-made leadership training for all business leaders and floor managers on board the four vessels.

The purpose of the training is to ensure that all the new managers get the necessary tools and knowledge to support them in their managerial positions. The training also focuses on the importance of all leaders being coherent in their communication and ‘speaking the same language’, when it comes to business and employee management.

The training consists of five modules covering topics like change management, situational leadership, conflict management, feedback, coaching and the DISC-training based on personality tests. The first module was rolled out on 4 June and the second module during July. They were facilitated by Birgitte Kjærsgaard and Emma Nordström from T&D. The third T&D module is taking place during August, led by the external consultant Annelise Schäfer.

Kim Heiberg, Cruise Route Director says: “We revealed the new organization late May, and one of our priorities was and still is to guarantee that all the new managers receive the support needed and feel well equipped for their new positions. To make this a reality, the Training & Development team worked hard to create the leadership training in such a short time and I am excited to see the training being put to good use by all the managers and leaders. I really appreciate the hard work done by all managers onboard and Birgitte, Emma and Annelise – it hasn´t been an easy task prioritizing this training in the middle of high season and holiday period. “

Project Starlight: New structure for the cruise organisation

We want our passengers on the cruise routes Copenhagen – Oslo and Amsterdam – Newcastle to enjoy an even greater time when travelling on our two cruise routes. We also want our colleagues on board to thrive in their jobs and feel they make a real difference. This should be the foundation on which we build an even better business and improve results.

With these aims, we launched Project Starlight in February and at the same time transferred the responsibility for the cruise routes to People & Ships for the project period to enable Group BU Passenger to focus entirely on making their new organisation work. This means that the Project Starlight and the cruise routes came under the management of EVP Henrik Holck with Cruise Director Kim Heiberg reporting to Henrik.


Stronger Business Leader roles, visible floor managers

Since March, the project group has worked on eight identified workstreams covering nearly all parts of operations. One of the workstreams focused on the organisation, and the project group is now ready to present the new structure for the two routes.

In the new structure, we will maintain a Commercial Head on board each ship but reduce the number of Business Leaders from up to six (seven on Pearl where there is a casino) to three Business Leaders on each ship. The below description is for Copenhagen – Oslo, on Amsterdam Newcastle the titles and areas differ slightly:

Business Leader Food & Beverage (F&B) will replace the three previous Business Leaders: Restaurant, Bar and Chef de Cuisine. This is to ensure that we utilise the synergies and knowledge from all three areas and along with Floor Managers (see below), become more visible to our customers in all restaurants. With this setup, we expect to increase our service and have a more dedicated focus, to ensure an even higher customer satisfaction in the future.

Business Leader Shop & Conference will have the responsibility for the shop and the conference on the Copenhagen – Oslo route. This will make room for the crew to care about customers and ensure that we are always aligned with products and concepts on board. Bringing the shop and conference business areas together will also make it easier to offer an enriched experience for our conference guests and make room for a more holistic way of thinking about their entire customer journey.

Business Leader Accommodation & Service will be a merger of the previous accommodation and guest service, which was formerly under the Business Leader Conference responsibility. Many of the questions asked in the Guest Service Centre are about cabins, beds, upgrades, cleaning etc. Therefore, it will be valuable to strengthen the knowledge and focus within the two areas.


Floor Managers

All areas will have Floor Managers who will be part of the daily work and at the same time have managerial responsibility. They will report to Business Leaders in specific areas. For example, the Business Leader F&B will be supported by Floor Managers in the restaurants. This is to ensure that we always have a visible manager on the floor in all outlets, to send a positive signal to our guests and support our crew. Up until now the Business Leader has been responsible for appearing in each restaurant every day.

See the organisational charts for both routes here:

Copenhagen – Oslo

Amsterdam – Newcastle


New structure in Cruise Routes’ central organisation

We want to ensure that all of our outlets on each route offer the same great experience, service and products and have the same advantages in relation to procurement and sales. Our guests should be able to recognise our concepts no matter which of our ships they are travelling on. Therefore, many of the responsibilities will be moved to the central organisation. To be in a better position to provide the necessary competencies and support, the previous On-Board Sales department will change from one overall supporting role for all areas into three more specific and focused departments. They will report to Kim Heiberg. This is to increase the cooperation between ships and shore in relation to competencies and areas of responsibilities.

The three new positions will be Head of Travel Retail, Head of Onboard Concepts and Head of Projects & Communication, who together with Peter Holleufer’s existing role as Head of Performance Management are essential for mirroring the onboard set-up, aligning the ships and support and follow-up on all areas onboard.

See the new structure for Cruise Routes’ central organisation here

“With this new organisation, we will simplify all workstreams and make sure that the crew can focus on the most important thing: our customers. The management will be much more visible, which makes a difference to both employees and guests. It will hopefully make our passengers even more satisfied with their journey with us and our colleagues thrive more in their jobs. I am looking forward to following the process closely in the coming months,” says Kim Heiberg.

All Business Leaders, floor managers and coordinators have been informed about their new roles, and Kim Heiberg will hold a staff meeting on Crown today and on Pearl tomorrow (1 June).

Teun Wim Leene will have a staff meeting onboard King today and on Princess tomorrow (1 June).

“I would like to thank everyone on board and all of you who have been part of Project Starlight. I am thankful for your great efforts and I hope that you will all be able to see the benefits of our hard work across ships and land. I am proud to be part of the cruise organisation and I am confident that with these new changes we will be able to improve and move for all to grow,” says Kim.


Lotte Weaver to leave DFDS

In the new structure, Lotte Weaver’s position as Head of On-Board Sales (OBS) will cease to exist. Lotte has been offered another position, but she has chosen to leave DFDS. “Lotte has been one of the strongest forces in the past half year in Project Starlight where she has put enormous amounts of effort into the project. I have had the pleasure of working with Lotte for the past seven years, and she has really done a fantastic job. She is extremely hardworking, reliable, strategic and competent, and it is very unfortunate for DFDS that Lotte has chosen to leave,” says Kim. Lotte will stay until August as a consultant, making sure that the new organisation is well implemented and to help recruit three new managers to the Cruise Routes’ central organisation. “I would like to thank all of my great colleagues whom I will certainly miss. The past seven years with DFDS have truly been a journey for me, and I wish you all the best,” says Lotte, who will be leaving DFDS to take care of her daughter, who will be coming home from hospital after lengthy treatment for mental illness.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kim Heiberg.