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An Interview with James Deering, Passenger Services Director

By

Richard H. Wagner
Passenger Services Director James Deering
James Deering is a Passenger Services Director for Princess
Cruises responsible for the hotel operation, which includes
essentially all of the services that come into direct contact with
passengers, on various  Princess mega-cruise ships.  When last I
spoke with James, he was the Passenger Services Director
(“PSD”) of the much-loved Crown Princess.(
Click here for
story).  Since then, he has been PSD on Princess’ newest ship,
Emerald Princess.  Most recently, he has been guiding Caribbean
Princess as she takes over the itineraries formerly done by Crown
Princess - - sailing out of San Juan in the winter and out of New
York in the warmer months.

Caribbean Princess, Emerald Princess and Crown Princess are all
variations upon the original Grand Princess design and are the
three latest versions of that design but yet many passengers favor
one over the others.* “One of the goals in every hotel in the world
whether it is floating or not is consistency in the product.  You
want your guests or past passengers in our case to be able to
expect certain things that they know they are going to get every
time.  That is why McDonald’s is so popular because every time
you go to McDonalds it smells and tastes exactly the same.  Some
people don’t like that but that is one of the keys to their success.  
You are expecting something and you get it.  In the cruise
business, we have to think about that too.  So, there are many,
many things which must be done and they must be done this way
if at all possible.  But, obviously, the tone of the vessel, which is
another really important thing, has a lot to do with the captain, the
passenger services director and how they interact and how they
interact with the crew.  If you have a hotel manager or a captain
who is very distant or very cold, the ship tends to take on that
persona.   If you have some that are very friendly, the ship
becomes more friendly than it normally is.  That still maintains the
consistency of the product but it could change the tone of the
experience dramatically.”

“Strangely too, every ship has its own character and we never
really understand how a ship gets that character.  It is just the way
the ship started out and the way it first succeeded or didn’t, what
happened to it the first few weeks or months, or the first captain
or the first passenger services director.  It develops its own
character which keeps going regardless of what happens
afterwards.  Sometimes this certain style or character or
personality of a ship tends to fit some people better than others.  I’
ll never understand it because even going between the Crown and
the Emerald, which are identical vessels, they both have all the
bells and whistles, they are both new, they have everything the
same but yet working on one and probably sailing on one is
completely different from being on the other.”

“This ship has quite a following.  We have people who are coming
back again, again and again to this ship.  We have 17 ships or are
about to have 17, 16 right now, and you would think that maybe
the New Yorkers would want to go to the newest one or the
fanciest one or the most advanced.  But, there seems to be quite a
market that really likes this ship.”

Still, coming to one of the most demanding markets in the world
and taking over from a very popular ship, Caribbean Princess
could not just rest upon her past laurels.  “There are many plans
and ideas that come through [from Princess’ main office] saying
that this is the demographic that we have seen previously and so
this is what worked last time on this other ship so let’s aim in that
direction again.  There is a lot of thought that goes into it ahead of
time.  We can’t cover all the bases because there are too many
variables that we can’t do anything about which will catch us by
surprise but we plan for it as much as we can.  We put people in
who have done this before, hopefully as many people as
possible.”  Take the lines as the Passenger Services Desk on the
final day of the cruise.  When a ship is operating out of New
York, “it is far longer and needs more attention than it would
anywhere else.  We don’t know why, it is just the way it is.  Since
we know that it is that way, let’s get people up there who are
ready for it and understand it.”

“The entertainment line-up on the ship right now is very good and
part of it has to do with the itinerary.  New Yorkers are rather
discriminating when it comes to entertainment.  They want to see
all the shows, as many as possible and we have the new ones for
them now.   Part of this is this Cruise Director Kelvin Joy, he was
on the Crown with me last year in New York.  He understands
the market because he has done it before but he is pretty pro-
active and that is mostly his doing.  The ratings on this ship out of
New York are much better than the Crown was last year for
entertainment.  But the Crown had the Piazza and we don’t.  But
we still beat them.  Kelvin is pretty proud of himself and he
should be too, he has done a good job.  Think how much better it
will be when we do have the Piazza - - there will be even more
entertainment going on.”

In January 2009, Caribbean Princess is scheduled for a three-
week dry docking during which many of the features such as the
Piazza that are on the Crown, the Emerald, and which will be on
Ruby Princess, which is due to join the fleet in November 2008.  
“Quite frankly, we are not still finished planning.  We know more
or less what we are going to be doing.  Some of its approved and
in the pipeline; some of it is just still a work in progress that we
are not quite sure about but we know it is going to be nice.”

From his prior experience, Deering believes that the addition of
the Piazza, a town square at the base of the ship’s central atrium
will be particularly popular.   “When you go on the Emerald or the
Crown, every hour there is somebody new coming on - - there are
still walkers, walking statues, comedians, jugglers and clowns.  It
is just a show down there hour after hour.”

In the Piazza, there will be the International Café, a venue with
specialty coffees, pastries and other interesting foods throughout
the day, a sushi bar, and a wine bar.  Caribbean Princess will also
be gaining The Sanctuary, an adults-only relaxation and spa area
on the open decks, and the Crown Grill will replace existing
steakhouse.  In addition, the casino will be moved and several
new family suites will be added that will have large windows
rather than balconies.  There will be other additions and a general
sprucing-up even though the ship is only four years old.  "The
ship will have a really nice new feel and look about her and that
will be great."


*This excludes Sapphire Princess and Diamond Princess, which
were built by another shipyard as well as the Ventura of P&O
Cruises.          
CLICK HERE FOR A PRINTER FRIENDLY PDF VERSION OF THE ARTICLE
CLICK HERE TO GO TO PART II OF THE INTERVIEW
CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 1

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 2

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS  TOUR 3

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 4

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 5

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 6

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 7

CARIBBEAN PRINCESS TOUR 8
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