Kevin Sheehan No Undercover Boss Now

As our colleague Phil Reimer always says — and he is The Expert, after all — corporate news about cruising is usually as interesting to people on cruises ships as what the captain had for breakfast.

SheehanThe Kevin Sheehan story, we think, is different.

On Friday, Sheehan resigned/was fired/left as the head of Norwegian Cruise Lines. The “s” on “Line” has applied since Norwegian purchased Regent Seven Seas and Oceania. It’s always been a complicated or complex relationship because Apollo Management owned half of Norwegian and all of Oceania, but the long and short of it is that Sheehan’s replacement is Frank Del Rio, co-founder of Oceania.

But that’s probably not what should interest you (and us).

This should…

It was Kevin Sheehan who elevated Norwegian from being just another player to a high-profile member in the club of major cruise lines, albeit a junior member. He spent seven years at Norwegian, becoming CEO in 2010, when he had to stickhandle through the mess created by a ship the industry — but not the passengers — have often ridiculed as a misfit, the Epic.

Once the economy showed signs of recovery, Sheehan turned Norwegian into an entertainment icon at sea, and became part of a show not at sea when he appeared on Sheehan-UndercoverUndercover Boss, which at least gave the impression he was very hands-on and very much the public face of Norwegian Cruises. He also embarked on a four-ship expansion that will be something of a legacy, once the third (Escape) and fourth (Bliss) arrive in his absence. At least two of the four Breakaway and Breakaway Plus ships have his signature pub (O’Sheehan’s) so you could say his footprint remains on Norwegian, but nowhere is it more obvious than on the Breakaway.

It was the first cruise ship to be anchored in New York for year-round sailings, and it was always presented as “New York’s ship.” Sheehan, you should know, is a New Yorker. Under Breakawayhis direction, the Breakaway has a “New York” Boardwalk, New York godmothers (The Rockettes), Broadway entertainment (Rock of Ages), a New York hull artist (Peter Max) who painted a New York skyline, and a famous New York chef, Geoffrey Zakarian, whose restaurant adorns the ship’s eateries.

The Breakaway was the blueprint for the Getaway, which has everything Miami, which is Sheehan’s other home.

Or was until Friday.

So if you like what you see on the newest Norwegian ships, you probably have Kevin Sheehan to thank for it.

Now the questions that remain are: (1) Will he surface with another cruise line that likes what he did? and (2) Will O’Sheehan’s still be called O’Sheehan’s?

Today at portsandbows.com: More on Norwegian's news

Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas
10 nights
March 30, 2015
Baltimore (return): Labadee, San Juan, St. Thomas, St. Maarten  
Inside: $682
Cost per day: $68
www.royalcaribbean.com

 

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