Cruise Exec Spotlight

Pres­i­dent and CEO of Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, Michael Bay­ley, is hap­pily back where his ca­reer be­gan.

Porthole Cruise Magazine - - Porthole - by SU­SAN J. YOUNG

IT’S A TALE FIT FOR A STO­RY­BOOK. IN 1981, A 22-YEAR- OLD STARTS his cruise in­dus­try ca­reer as as­sis­tant purser on Nordic Prince and three decades later, he’s named pres­i­dent and CEO of Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional. Yet, in De­cem­ber 2014, that’s pre­cisely what hap­pened to Michael Bay­ley, now back at the brand where his ca­reer be­gan.

“I grew up with Royal Caribbean, and when I think about how my life is in­ter­twined with it, pro­gress­ing from boy to man, I’ve been with Royal Caribbean through ev­ery jour­ney, ev­ery new in­no­va­tion, ev­ery new des­ti­na­tion, and ev­ery new re­gion,” he em­pha­sizes. Dur­ing his 11 years of ship­board ser­vice, he worked on mul­ti­ple ships as chief purser, di­rec­tor of ship­board hu­man re­sources, ho­tel di­rec­tor, and other po­si­tions.

In 1992, he moved shore­side into cruise line man­age­ment, be­fore a stint with Cae­sars Palace Ho­tel and Casino. Cruis­ing pulled him back, though. Over the years, he’s held many ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions with Royal Caribbean In­ter­na­tional, plus has served as ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent in sev­eral Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. roles. Most re­cently, he was Celebrity Cruises’ pres­i­dent and CEO.

“I’m so happy to be back at Royal Caribbean,” says Bay­ley. “I love the brand. It’s el­e­vat­ing, re­lax­ing, very friendly, vi­brant, and col­or­ful. You start to feel very re­laxed and happy from the way the ships are de­signed to the col­ors, the spa­ces, crewmem­bers, en­ter­tain­ment, and the breadth and depth of din­ing.”

One of his first tasks as pres­i­dent was show­ing off the up­dated Free­dom of the Seas for guests and travel part­ners. Af­ter board­ing, he was in a Celebrity mind­set, “but af­ter a few hours, I was back to the Royal ‘mojo.’ This won­der­ful, energy that Royal Caribbean has as a brand … Guests can have a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence ev­ery night sim­ply by catch­ing the el­e­va­tor.” Bay­ley says Quan­tum

of the Seas’ high-pow­ered band­width, Dy­namic Din­ing, and other first-at-sea fea­tures are also do­ing what the in­dus­try needs: at­tract­ing new cruis­ers. “We’ve cre­ated a new par­a­digm, and what we did with that ship was re­ally cut­ting edge,” he says. “It will help re­shape the in­dus­try.”

Yet, he also ac­knowl­edges each new ship is a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Based on vo­cal past guest feed­back, the line has added back a tra­di­tional din­ing op­tion for both early and late seat­ing aboard the new An­them of the Seas; guests who so choose will ro­tate nightly through the four main din­ing rooms with the same wait­ers.

Bay­ley says “grow­ing up in the brand” has been both an honor and a priv­i­lege. “We think our po­si­tion is good,” he says, in­di­cat­ing guests likely won’t see any ma­jor shift in the brand ap­proach. “We just

need to keep evolv­ing, de­vel­op­ing, and mov­ing for­ward.”

So what does Bay­ley like most about his ships? When trav­el­ing for busi­ness, he grav­i­tates to Chops, not­ing that “I’m not a big meat eater but if I’m go­ing to eat meat, I’m go­ing to eat the best steak in the world.” He’s a Wind­jam­mer fan when trav­el­ing with his two chil­dren, and re­cently dined at Sa­bor Mod­ern Mex­i­can, en­joy­ing “the nice twist to Mex­i­can cui­sine with a con­tem­po­rary edge.”

On ships, he en­joys vis­it­ing new des­ti­na­tions across the globe, but al­ways has a soft spot for iconic lo­cales. “It never breaks my heart if I have to go to Rio, it never makes me mad if I have to go to Rome, and I never get dis­tressed if I have to go to Venice,” he says with a touch of hu­mor.

When sail­ing for plea­sure, he’s a “re­lax­ation seeker.” Noth­ing pleases him more than spread­ing out in a suite, en­joy­ing the spa, and hav­ing his chil­dren happy and oc­cu­pied in Ad­ven­ture Ocean or with other ac­tiv­i­ties. Bay­ley’s day on board? “I like to have a late break­fast, then am­ble down to the spa, per­haps have a lit­tle nap, have a Wind­jam­mer lunch with a nice win­dow sea view, and then head to the pool.”

Liv­ing in Mi­ami, “I like to walk and think,” he says, of­ten am­bling around his neigh­bor­hood or the Royal Caribbean’s Mi­ami cam­pus.

A na­tive of the United King­dom, Bay­ley grad­u­ated with a de­gree in busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion from the Univer­sity of Bournemouth in Eng­land, and has at­tended sev­eral man­age­ment pro­grams. When asked how em­ploy­ees would de­scribe him, Bay­ley quips: “I would say, ‘He’s a real pain.’ ” That said, he be­lieves in build­ing trust, busi­ness re­la­tion­ships, and team­work, but be­comes very hands-on if he thinks things aren’t go­ing the way they should be.

Now set­tling com­fort­ably into his new lead­er­ship role, Bay­ley says, “I love the feel, pace, tempo, at­mos­phere, and cul­ture. I’m Royal through and through.”

Bay­ley en­joys vis­it­ing new des­ti­na­tions across the globe,

but al­ways has a soft spot for iconic spots.

ROY­ALTY ON BOARD Michael Bay­ley’s typ­i­cal day at sea in­cludes a late break­fast, time in the spa or a nap, lunch at Wind­jam­mer, and re­lax­ing by the pool.

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