For Creating an “Incubator for Innovation”
Since becoming president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings several years ago, Frank Del Rio has shaped development of the world’s third largest cruise company, comprised of three diverse brands — contemporary Norwegian Cruise Line, upper premium Oceania Cruises (which he also co-founded in 2002) and luxury Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
Of Cuban heritage, Del Rio was six years old when he emigrated to the U.S. with his parents in 1961. In life, he always “sees possibilities” and “opportunity.” Yes, he has innovative ideas, but he also asks others for their input too. Anecdotally, he once asked his grandchildren what they’d like to see on a cruise ship. They answered “a race track,” and, presto, one debuted on Norwegian Joy; a new two-level track is coming next on the new Norwegian Encore.
Generally, though, even when sharing his ideas, he leaves brand innovations to the individual brand teams so they “own” their own product. He encourages the brand teams to innovate and elevate at every opportunity, and even to take some risks. Del Rio, who found himself out of a job at Renaissance Cruises in 2001 but roared back in launching Oceania, believes that failure means “at least you tried something.”
At NCLH’s headquarters in Miami-Dade County, FL Del Rio has created an “incubator for innovation” — giving the brand teams all the resources (financial and otherwise) to get creative. Most importantly, his leadership allows them to actually execute on that creativity.