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How Catering to Crews Became Business

On every cruise ship we have sailed, in every interview we have done, the single most important secret to success is people. That's the people who make up the crews, who make officers and companies look good, and who make passengers want to come back.

So it's a cruise company mandate to do whatever is possible to keep the crew happy.

Enter David Hirsch, now 43.

He worked on Royal Caribbean ships for almost five years, as a cruise director. Some time after he left, Hirsch and his wife Ashley created Crew Concierge, with the idea of making cruise ship crews happier…and creating a business at the same time. What he later told Cruise Industry News best explains their idea:

"“There were times when I needed basics – shampoo, toothpaste and maybe some snacks when the mess was closed. I needed these items, but was unable to get off the ship because I was on duty. And when I was able to get off, the prices in the ports were two to three times more expensive."

So Crew Concierge sourced what crew members from dozens of countries needed or wanted — from their countries — and started pitching it, in Florida.

“We walked up and down the ports, handing out flyers at the crew gates, hoping for orders," he remembered. "After two weeks and no orders from crew, we got a $5,000 order from a ship. The flyer had made its ways into the hands of officers looking for a more efficient way to supply their ever growing crew needs."

The result has been on-board stores, solely for crew. If items are marked up at all, profits fund crew welfare activities.

Today, Crew Concierge services 40 ships. The $5,000 first order had grown, last year, to $3.2 million.

Lucky Hirsches. Lucky crews.

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Golf lessons at sea?

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
September 1, 2014
Miami (return): NassauCoco CayKey West
Inside: $249
Cost per day: $62
www.royalcaribbean.com

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