The global cruise industry has been in the midst of a building boom over the last decade. As the largest cruise lines have grown larger, everyone has been forced to innovate in terms of onboard experience to differentiate their products in an extremely competitive marketplace.

Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain has led the company since 1988, leading the charge on creative innovations that make bigger ships feel not only more intimate, but more fun.

As the ships have gotten bigger, so too have the profit margins of cruise lines.

“The world has changed, and people’s view of cruising has changed,” said Fain. “What the larger ships offer is an opportunity to offer more amenities, activities, more things to do…. We’ve reinvested the economies of scale so that they’re actually getting higher per diems on the biggest ships.”

Bigger isn’t always better, as executives from luxury and river cruise lines often say. Yet high-tech design tools are allowing Royal Caribbean to pack their megaships full of interesting spaces and interactive activities that are often at odds with the perception that big-ship cruising is for an older demographic.

“The most important thing is the technology of design,” said Fain. “Now you have 3D renderings, you can print out spaces and see what they look like. Our innovation lab has two things in it: a collaboration space…and a 3D virtual reality simulator. We have our own holodeck…now we have these rooms we walk into, and we can see it all and walk around in it. The same technology integrates with what the construction is at the yard, so you can build more into the vessel.”

Watch the entire interview above, and find more coverage of Skift Global Forum here.

At this year’s Skift Global Forum in New York City, travel leaders from around the world gathered for two days of inspiration, information, and conversation. There were interviews, panel discussions, and solo TED-like talks on the future of travel.

Visit our Skift Global Forum site for more details about 2018 events.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain at Skift Global Forum 2017 in New York City. Skift