15 minutes with…Mariner of the Seas’ Cruise Director Dan Whitney


Cruise Director Dan Whitney talks about the entertainment Asians love onboard Royal Caribbean’s Mariner of the Seas.

As cruise director, how do you make Mariner of the Seas a friendly ship for Asian passengers? What do you do to make them welcome?

Our crew deliver our friendly, engaging and personal hallmark Gold Anchor Service to make all our guests feel welcome, happy and part of the Royal Caribbean family. In addition, we always try our best to welcome our guests in their native languages to make them feel at home. Moreover at the welcome aboard show, I would specially highlight all the countries which our guests come from as well as how many there are and extend a warm welcome to them, which always delight them. In Asia, we also provide language assistance for onboard collateral and signage, and we have staff onboard fluent in Asian languages and trained in many of the finer points of Asian culture.

How does the entertainment on the Singapore season differ from the China season?

There are more similarities than differences. Nevertheless, when we are in Singapore there is a shift away from Mandarin to more English, as we try to cater to guests who are from a wider region of Asia and from around the world.

What do the majority of Asian passengers like most among Mariner’s activities?

Guests here are more inclined to enjoy the rock climbing wall, ice skating, ice shows and DreamWorks Entertainment which are Royal Caribbean’s signature offerings. They also enjoy a game of bingo, line dancing and a chance to sing at the karaoke.

Generally, how, in your view, do Asian cruisers differ from their American or European counterparts?

American and European cruisers tend to spend the majority of their time laying out in the sun to get a tan, whereas our Asian guests like to take advantage of the indoor activities, music and shopping.

Does the ship alter its menus to cater for Asian tastes? And can you give us some examples of what has proved popular? Have you hired Asian chefs to deal with new menus?

Our ship enhances her menu with Asian dishes for her Asian seasons to better cater to our Asian guests’ tastes and preferences. We have Asian chefs in our galley and some of our popular Asian dishes are: Stir-Fried Black Pepper Beef, Teriyaki Chicken leg, Roasted Duck with Hoisin sauce, Shrimp and Cod Tempura, Thai-style Fish Curry and Cauliflower & Red Peppers Cooked with Curry Masala & Yoghurt

Do you also provide special entertainment for Asian guests? Again, could you give us some examples?

We offer more visual entertainment on our Asian cruises such as music, dance, acrobatic and magic shows which are very popular with our guests here, Some highlights include ‘Ballet on Shoulders’ and ‘Center Stage’ which showcases popular movie soundtracks performed by a live orchestra and dancers. At the same time, the ice show is also a big hit with our guests.

Are there particularly excursions which work well for the Asian market?

There are all kinds of shore excursions based on various guest interests, ranging from shopping to food and sporty ones that can cater well to multigenerational families.

Do you find it necessary to make announcements in Asian languages or change signs for Asian passengers?

In Asia, we have the core languages (Mandarin, Korean, Japanese and English) on any signs and in our digital informational touch screens. If there are large groups of certain Asian guests not covered by those languages, we try to get someone fluent in that language to help us translate.

What kind of family activities will you provide for Asian families? And do you find more Asian families like to travel together?

Cruising is an important family bonding event for our Asian guests who like to travel in multi-generations. Family activities are designated for it. In order for families to participate and have fun together, we provide activities such as family science, scavenger hunt, scrapbooking and family disco fun hour that allow every single family member to be involved.

Are there special activities for Asian children and teens?

There are various activities onboard for all different age groups of children. We provide different theme activities such as Pirate Night, Carnival Fun, Rock N’ Roll and Pajamas Party – these are popular western kids party programs that our Asian junior cruisers here can enjoy and experience the amazing different cultures on their cruise with Royal Caribbean.

How many Asian cruise staff do you have in your team?

For the whole Cruise Activities division, we have around 65% of the crew hailing from Asia.

Many Asian countries are keen to make cruising more popular. Thinking about your experience, what would be your advice on how to communicate the experience to Asians?

We aim to create more market awareness and interest for our brand’s innovative and exciting products and the benefits of cruising such as unpacking only once on a trip to multiple destinations and its great value-for-money packages, through our marketing and PR campaigns as well as working with travel agents and local tourism boards. With an award winning brand and successful product in Asia, we have also built up a strong reputation in the market by word of mouth from our guests.