How Miami-Dade’s rise as an innovation hub dovetails with the modernizing efforts of its pillar cruise industry

Arnold Donald President & CEO – Carnival Corporation

How does Miami factor into Carnival Corporation’s strategy for growth?

Our top priority is to exceed guest expectations and deliver double-digit return on investor capital, which we are on track to achieve in the next two to three years, while prioritizing safety and environmental standards. Miami plays an important role in furthering our mission, beginning with the port, but also as a home base for a significant portion of our workforce. Meanwhile, PortMiami is an important departure point for many guests, as several of our brands—including our flagship Carnival Cruise Line brand, which is headquartered in Miami—operate from PortMiami. Perhaps no other port in the world handles more cruise ships daily as PortMiami. With its proximity to Cuba, Miami will also play an important role as commercial relations with the country evolve, as more people will be coming through Miami, whether to cruise with us or to take a ferry to the island nation.

Miami-Dade stakeholders are working to deepen commercial ties with China. How do these campaigns align with Carnival Corporation’s China plans?

China is the largest outbound tourism market with tremendous growth opportunities. It can become the world’s largest cruise market—as large as the entire cruise industry today. Carnival Corporation, already the market leader in China, is maintaining its large share of this booming market. For example, we entered a joint venture partnership with the China State Shipbuilding Corporation and the China Investment Corporation to create China’s first multi-ship domestic cruise brand.

How might the cruising industry, a pillar of Miami-Dade’s economy, synergize with its budding tech ecosystem?

Innovation is critical to our business; we have constructed an innovation center in Miami that will allow us to develop and test new technologies and generate new jobs locally. Technology plays a crucial role in the ability for cruise lines to know and satisfy their customers. For instance, we regularly engage with our database of 30 million previous guests. We examine what they liked about their cruise and how they spent their time to understand which features of our different ships are working well with our brands. Some of the tech initiatives we have introduced are enhanced WiFi on some of our ships and a social smartphone app. We continue to develop ways for guests to use their phones to, in effect, design their own cruise. Our ultimate goal is to exceed guest expectations by empowering each guest with technology to customize their travel experience.