Industry publication Cruise Week has profiled the leaders of six major cruise lines, each of whom is a key force in shaping the industry. The profiles were created based on the observations of veteran reporters. This is the 5th in the series.
Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan takes pride not only in his Irish heritage, but also in his humble roots – his early resumÃ© includes a stint driving a cab in New York. But when you look at all the companies he’s turned around and taken public since then, you realize he’s a powerful man.
“From the purely business perspective, Sheehan has the most depth of anybody, as he’s taken several companies public [including Avis],” observes one reporter. “Look at his background — it’s a hefty resumÃ©, with Sheehan being a key player at Time Warner, HBO, Reliance Group Holdings, etc.”
With this background, Sheehan has learned to adjust nimbly when things are not going in the right direction. “As one example, they’re making lemonade out of lemons with Epic,” says one reporter. “Remember the ship started off being sort of South Beach clubby — young people. Now you see all these family-oriented additions and very wide-ranging entertainment. Another example is that they made what some saw as a mistake with the studios, but then they turned them into singles, and the response from agents turned more positive.”
Sheehan is described as likeable, open, and spontaneous. “That’s one reason he’s succeeded in getting every player from bottom to top in that company into what he’s trying to do,” says another reporter. “Combine that with his resources – the entire Apollo Management company is behind him. To go along with that, NCL is way better positioned than a few years ago. The Hawaii disaster is past and the much-needed fleet renewal instituted under the Colin Veitch era is near completion.”