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Carnival Cruise Line expands cooperation with DNV

Looking back on a successful business relationship of many years, Carnival Cruise Line and DNV have agreed to give their cooperation an additional dimension: CCL’s new HESS (Health, Environment, Safety and Sustainability) Excellence programme.

As the first major US cruise line to get its entire fleet back to guest operations after the cruise sector’s pause, with an occupancy rate that leads the industry, and with a growth plan that included two additional ships in 2022 and will add three more over the next 18 months, CCL is clearly doing well. Much of this commercial success is attributable to an extraordinary corporate culture and the far-sighted way in which CCL kept its fleet in shape during the pandemic, says Jan Solum, DNV Area Manager for the North American East Coast.

Contributing to that great success

A man who has played a crucial role in this success story is Capt. Domenico Rognoni, Chief Marine Officer of Carnival Cruise Line. Having spent 43 years of his career at the company, he witnessed first-hand its ascent from being a small cruise operator with just three ships to the huge corporation it is today. After joining the original Mardi Gras in 1980, Rognoni was part of the inaugural crew of Carnival’s first-ever newbuild, the Tropicale, after her launch in 1982, and sailed on board CCL ships until 1997. Having held many leadership positions at CCL since, he has been instrumental in establishing the corporate culture Solum refers to.

In and out of the pandemic: Challenges and opportunities

The pandemic created huge challenges for cruise companies, says Rognoni. To repatriate crew members from around the world while borders were closed and aeroplane travel was shut down, CCL moved vessels all over the world. “Supporting our crews has always been a priority at CCL,” he says. It paid off: After the pandemic, CCL was able to fill crucial positions quickly; considering the circumstances, the return rate was overwhelming, says Rognoni.  

CCL kept its vessels in operating condition with reduced manning throughout the pandemic to be able to restart quickly, efficiently and safely, conducting the scheduled inspections and maintenance audits remotely. “A lesson we learned during the pandemic was that sometimes we do not take advantage of a useful new technology immediately because sticking to the routine is easier,” says Rognoni. “The pandemic brought about many opportunities to embrace new technology. Reinventing the way we do things taught us how much more we can sometimes accomplish when we really have to.”  

Safety as an integral part of the corporate culture

The secret to a successful corporate culture in general, and an effective safety culture in particular, is the way you interact with people, says Rognoni, who has overseen several successful safety enhancement programmes at CCL over the years. “One three-year programme Capt. Rognoni oversaw yielded impressive safety results,” Jan Solum points out. “By focusing on building a strong safety culture throughout the entire organization, and building up people, processes and procedures, CCL successfully reduced the accident frequency significantly over three years. Capt. Rognoni has always had foresight and implemented smart strategic initiatives and tactical solutions related to safety well ahead of the maritime industry, as he did again now, during the pandemic, and through the solutions he implemented while restarting safely back into operation.”

Six core values drive the safety culture

Capt. Rognoni sees CCL’s consistent drive for improvement, and in particular the implementation of its six core values, as key enablers of this outcome before and after the pandemic. “These principles are closely interconnected: Speak up – Listen – Respect and Protect – Empower – Improve – Communicate,” he says. “We believe in a culture of trust where everyone feels comfortable to bring their ideas and concerns to the table. By listening and learning we can bring people’s input to fruition. We must respect and protect places and people; and we should empower our people to grow because everyone makes a difference.” 

Above all, he adds, a big company cannot grow unless it improves and innovates constantly: “There is always a better way to do things and we need to get away from the status quo, think out of the box and believe that we can improve anything we do.” 

Training on new technologies is essential

As more and more new technologies become part of daily life on board, the safety culture must adapt, says Rognoni: “The new technologies – LNG, fuel cells etc. – require people who are well prepared and know how to operate them. People who are competent above and beyond the basic requirements, not only the technical team but also the deck team. They all need additional training and certification to ensure safe operation.” 

We are very excited about the digitalization collaboration we have engaged in with DNV. And there are many other areas where we can work together with DNV to understand how we can improve and explore technologies and make progress, such as decarbonization and fuel efficiency.
Captain Domenico Rognoni Chief Marine Officer, Carnival Cruise Line , Carnival Cruise Line

After CCL took delivery of its first two LNG-fuelled newbuilds in 2021 and 2022, DNV sent experts from Høvik to the USA on CCL’s request to help with crew and office staff training on maintenance and operation management, says Jan Solum. “We are fortunate to be able to draw on a portfolio of hundreds of training programmes from our Maritime Academy, available at our Cruise Center, to tailor training programmes upon request.”  

Driving innovation is key element in new partnership programme

Improvement and innovation have been key elements of the cooperation between CCL and DNV and will become even more prominent. “We always recognized that DNV had extremely great areas of expertise where we could take advantage. DNV is widely respected in the shipping industry and active in a wide range of other fields outside shipping,” says Rognoni. “Recently we established an innovation partnership to develop a software tool to support our successful resumption to service through our HESS Excellence programme.”  

CCL’s new HESS Excellence (Health, Environment, Safety and Sustainability) programme was key to a successful restart after the pandemic. It was very well received on board due to the excellent collaboration and support that was provided in all areas of operation. “It is more than an inspection check; it is like taking an X-ray of the condition of that vessel,” describes Rognoni. “We are very excited about the digitalization collaboration we have engaged in with DNV. And there are many other areas where we can work together with DNV to understand how we can improve and explore technologies and make progress, such as decarbonization and fuel efficiency. We are definitely looking forward to the journey we are about to embark on with DNV. I have great expectations that it will be much more than just going on board, inspecting the vessel and creating a report or issuing a certificate. Together we can put the bar higher and higher. There is no limit to compliance.” 

Sustainability roadmap sets clear business priorities

Compliance is important, Capt. Rognoni adds, but it should not be considered as a chore. “My goal is to create synergies, teams that work together and always look for that better way of doing things that is always there. I want people to view and exercise compliance as an asset. 

“It is Carnival’s Purpose and Mission to deliver unforgettable happiness to our guests by providing extraordinary cruise vacations, while honouring the integrity of every ocean we sail, place we visit and life we touch. And we do this by delivering on our Vision of being the global leader in the cruise industry, where we will lead the way in innovative and sustainable cruising to deliver memorable vacations and build borderless connections,” says Rognoni. “And how do we do that? By setting clear business priorities where our ambition is: to set the pace with the industry’s smartest solutions that deliver on our sustainability roadmap to 2030, and by maintaining our commitment to excellence in compliance, environmental protection and in looking after the safety, health and well-being of every life we touch.” 

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Jan Solum

Jan Solum

Director DNV Cruise Center/Area Manager

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