The final chapter of my tour of our foreign offices is underway. If you have been reading this blog you probably get the idea that I have traveled a lot in my 21+ years at Royal Caribbean. Correct. You might also surmise that some trips are more memorable than others. Right again. This definitely fits into the more memorable category.
The itinerary took a lot of work and maybe a few years off the life of my assistant Marta. The jigsaw puzzle finally looked like this: Monday in London, Tuesday in Oslo, Wednesday in Madrid and Barcelona, Thursday in Frankfurt, Friday in Genoa. Maybe not the best way to enjoy Europe but we have cruises to sell and Oasis of the Seas and many other initiatives to promote. Plus I was long overdue to say hello to my team in Europe.
All of the above would not have pushed this trip into the memorable category. But this did: Sunday morning I wanted to get one more workout in before the trip. I wanted to run my 3.7 mile loop around UM campus in record time. I started at 5:15 a.m. By 2.5 miles I was on 6.45 per mile and I knew I wasn’t going to set my course PR. But I was running fast enough that when I tripped over an unseen barrier alongside the road I wiped out injuring my toe, shoulder, cheek and most of all my ear. I jogged home and my wife did her best to help me. I was a mess. So what does one do under these circumstances with a taxi scheduled to arrive in 45 minutes to take me on a one week European trip?
The answer is obvious – go to the Eagles – Saints football game in Philadelphia. My stepmother met me at the airport with a hospital load of first aid and we went to the game. The Eagles fell about as flat as I did but that’s another story. Then we went out to dinner (Osteria, very nice Italian restaurant and they don’t seem to mind if their patrons look like Rocky Balboa) and back to the airport for my flight to London.
Michael Bayley and I ask (i.e., require) our country directors to maximize my schedule for my short visits. Unfortunately, they comply. So among other things the UK team had arranged a TV appearance on CNN International. I knew I was in trouble for TV seeing as how my face was swollen under my left eye and my ear wouldn’t stop bleeding. CNN informed my team that the network doesn’t provide make-up for their guests. We went to the studio anyway and met with Richard Quest the program host who would be interviewing me. He took one look at me and yelled out “make-up!” So, fyi, CNN does make-up for guests. Through the miracle of TV I look almost normal.
In Oslo, there was naturally more TV. Naturally because in Oslo we are always a focus of attention given our listing on the Oslo stock exchange and our heritage in that region.
On Wednesday I traveled by the fast train with my Spanish team from Madrid to Barcelona in the afternoon. The train goes 300 kilometers per hour and is very high tech. We have a relationship with the train company so they invited us to visit with the conductor and look out the window forward as we raced down the tracks very cool. There is actually nothing for the conductor to do except keep his foot on a sort of pedal on the floor. If he takes his foot off the pedal an alarm sounds. If he doesn’t put his foot back on the pedal the train will stop. Otherwise he just looks out the window or at the electronic display. He seemed to appreciate the company as evidently it’s rare that anyone is permitted to visit.
On Thursday I was in Frankfurt. The good news was my face was healing and my ear was less nasty. The bad news was the emergence of a significant black eye. Just what I needed in order to meet with top media, travel agents and public officials.
Nevertheless, it is extremely gratifying to meet with my teams in each of the countries. They are so passionate about our brands and they are so eager to interact with our leadership. Even the less tenured employees know I spent most of the 1990’s establishing or expanding our presence in these countries and they appreciate my history with their markets. Plus they are SO excited about Oasis of the Seas.
Today I’m on my way to Italy.