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Norwegian Cruise Lines Prima a Class into Itself

November 13, 2022

Earlier this month, I was invited to be among 2,400 guests on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ first United States sailing of Norwegian Prima, on October 6, visiting Halifax, Nova Scotia, and returning to New York City on October 10.  The Fam Tour’s maiden voyage offered us a rare treat and sneak peak into what is being touted as an over-the-top novelty experience for cruise enthusiasts, offering many first-of-its-kind venues and attractions.

With a guest capacity of 3,099 passengers and 1,506 ship crew, Prima is the first of six ships in the cruise line’s groundbreaking Prima class. Under development since 2017, it’s being called one of the most luxurious ships in its class.


As a designer and builder, the first thing I noticed about Prima is its innovative bow design. As it cuts through the water, it almost looks like it’s a beluga whale compared to a sharp edge like we’ve seen in the past in ship design. It has more outdoor deck space than any of its previous vessels and this is a very different approach. While the width of most ships is generally 185 feet, the Prima’s decks overhang its beam.

On deck eight, there is a 44,000-square foot Ocean Boulevard that wraps around the full ship and offers an enchanting outdoor sculpture garden with six art installations.  As you make the loop of the Boulevard, you come upon two infinity pools on each side of the ship, an open air lounge as well as two Oceanwalk glass bridges.

The inside space is uniquely designed as well. Typically, cruise ships’ port side and starboard side are mirror images of each other. Ships over the past 20 years have all generally had the Lido deck and the bars, restaurants and nightclubs on one floor. They’ve been pretty consistently configured and easy to navigate. The Prima breaks this mold. Like pirates who leave behind treasures in the sea, the Prima has created nooks and crannies, tiny gems of special spaces tucked away all over the ship.  They’re delightful to discover, but for guests accustomed to learning a cruise boat after a few days, they may need a little more patience as they meander about (and get lost a bit) in this newly designed cruise ship.

Also, I noticed right away the ceiling height in the corridors is lower, but not so much that you feel constrained. They’ve reconfigured their real estate and have decided to allow more space at the top of the ship for the tall features of the Aqua Park and Main Pool and the cruise industry’s first three-level race track at sea, the Prima Speedway, that offers go kart racing.  Similarly, the beautiful area where you enter the ship,The Primrose Atrium, spans three decks and feels as expansive as an upmarket resort hotel. It serves as a gateway to every area of the ship and its sleek, modern look sets the tone for the design elements that you’ll experience throughout the ship.

Pure Indulgence

It’s always exciting to see how the cruise industry evolves its food options. One of my favorite areas of the ship was the Indulge Food Hall. I believe Norwegian’s executives led by CEO and President Frank J. Del Rio brought a new level of excellence with this re-imagined food hall. The multioutlet venue boasts 11 food eateries and you can either order at the table via a tablet or place your order at the outlet. Airstream food trucks dot this space and add a fun design element. Who doesn’t love a food truck?!


Post-pandemic, we all think about the amount of “private space” we want in a new way. We desire it more now and that’s why travelers wanting a semi-private space to call their own will continue to grow.  The Prima gives consumers an easy way to upgrade the cruise experience and delivers on its promise for luxury, private accommodations with “The Haven.” Hidden at the top of the ship, The Haven offers some of the largest suites ever designed.  When not admiring stunning sea views from every public area, guests use private elevators to their staterooms where they can enjoy the personalized service of a 24-hour butler. Guests also enjoy their own pools, restaurant and deck space.

Haven’s Infinity Pool

Specialty Restaurants and Bars Elevate Experience to a New Level

The cruise industry continues to move away from the one price pays all concept. On this ship, in addition to its complimentary dining venues, you have the opportunity to dine at specialty restaurants Palomar, Food Republic, Onda by Scarpetta, Los Lobos, Le Bistro, Hasuki, Nama Sushi and Cagney’s Steakhouse. My favorite was Le Bistro where I dined with Cruise Expert Tina Lorusso of CruisesOnly. We had succulent lamb and pork tender loin  and were wowed by the French Interiors. Tina has been securing my cruises for years and if you ever need a travel agent with exceptional customer service skills, you should contact Tina at 1-800-278-4737, extension 77389.

Specialty bars also abound on Prima and offer everything from the cruise industry’s first sustainable cocktail bar, The Metropolitan, to the quaint La Tarozzo, an open-air lounge with forward-facing sea views.  The front-runner in my opinion was the Whiskey Bar on Deck Eight. It offered me the opportunity to explore a new dynamic ship layout and experience a very enjoyable personal experience on board. 

Whiskey Bar

Whether you’re cruising with multi generations, as a couple, or solo as I did, the Prima will not disappoint. “Walking Good and inspiring others to Dream!”

We don’t want to be Disney!

October 25, 2022

In 1999 we answered the call of a new industry and began to move away from theme parks and casinos after about 20 years. Although we were quite successful in those industries we found new challenges in the new Cruise Ship Era. Long gone were the ideas that cruises were for older guests and adventures were slow paced. The new ships being planned were so large they had no place to dock!

We were engaged by Royal Caribbean to begin a creative process of defining a new approach to cruise ships and destinations. In our first introductory meeting we were in the room with the Chairman and President of Royal Caribbean International. After we quickly introduced our company with their VP’s and Directors, we shared our approach to developing guest experiences and we were hired to further other RCL projects. We have since enjoyed 23 years on this new adventure and enjoyed the creative challenges we have met. With over 17 ports conceived and developed around the world it has been quite a journey. However I wanted to blog about the cautionary beginning of our journey with our client Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise Lines. As they were awarding us an additional opportunity to direct some new strategic planing, their President’s closing remark still resonates with me. After seeing the ICON of the Seas being promoted today online, I had to recite that classic closing remark. “Hugh, we appreciate your extensive Disney background and experience, but we do not want to see the Cruise Industry and our private islands start to look like Disney World”. It may have taken 22 years, but now success; we have inspired yet another industry to exceed the customers’ expectations! Sail on!

Future of Business on the High Seas

January 31, 2021

I wanted to republish an article from my blog in 2014 as it has such relevance with what is going on in this Covid infected world. I feel the world is going to see rapid change in almost every aspect of our lives. We are just beginning to see post Covid projects being created and we see dramatic changes coming.

Had George Orwell ever taken a cruise his 1984 novel may have been told at Sea. A story of Global Banks and Sovereign Nations sailing around the world in a global tax haven aboard a fleet of mega ships. Imagine a slight variation on the cruise industry today; where corporate ships are owned by sovereign nations like Bermuda, Qatar and Macau and on board are 50 global banks and private equity firms in posh offices with client suites. They no longer need land side corporate headquarters’ in taxable jurisdictions; they simply move their respective Global offices from port to port and handle all their transactions on the high seas. Imagine the HMS Winsor sailing from Hong Kong to Singapore doing business on behalf of the Royal Family and their many investment partners, a Coutts and Company private yacht in tow, all being managed by a crew aboard a fleet of the Windsor Royal Cruise Lines. Or even a Global Airline owning a fleet of Residence at Sea Vessels where their owners and residents are Global Citizens with their own passports and domiciled on board or in private islands like a newly branded Grande Bahama with an array of unlimited private island destinations. Some of these private Island nations may even have space planes in places like Curacao or even Grande Bahama with their 12,000 ft long runways. Large multinational companies like Genting, Wynn Resorts, and even Google owning fleets of ships that provide global gaming and finance while it entertaining its clients on global trips across all seven seas.

What would an Apple ship or better an Apple fleet look like. Apple’s new Global Headquarters is at sea with all the leading edge electronics on board and will visit a port near you! Goldman Sacks no longer is limited to manipulating wall street from its land based operation in New York but now form a mega ship adrift off of any shore at any time with no regulatory agency monitoring its deals. The newly developed home ports for these vessels will become magnets for investments of all kind like global airports some with space planes transporting guests half way around the world to cruise with their bankers of choice over the weekend.

This brave new cruising world will change the basic economic picture for the entire world. These private global fleet will have registration in sovereign countries, be protected by private navy’s and enjoy a tax haven that encompass the earth. Private family trusts and private banks will have offices at sea and offer investment trips to their clients for unlimited cruising conferences and seminars via satellite . All transactions will happen at sea and not be governed by any tax jurisdiction. Alliances will be formed between these floating corporate headquarters’ and act as sovereign entities managing the worlds wealth and commerce. Ports will feature large city like floating platforms which act as weigh stations for guests and provisioning. Entertainment Giants like Disney and Universal will have floating theme parks and resorts that can take you anywhere on earth. Environmentalist and Conservancy Foundations can float aboard solar powered vessels to exotic destinations and provide global audiences with their aspirations and green initiatives on site.

Floating tankers and provisioning platforms owned by Target and Wal-Mart will supply fuel and provisions at the best global pricing as the mega ships come to the supply not to shore. Tax free fuel and products make these floating cities economically viable and provide for the privacy and security not always available in their countries of Origin. This truly would be a global marketplace without limitations of local governments and people become “Citizens of the World”. Imagine what a fleet of Exxon or BP floating platform destinations and ships could present with partners like GE or DuPont in innovative manufacturing and science exploration. Universities are not just study at sea programs but actually become an entire campus at Sea. 

A global Harvard, Yale or Cornell attracting and teaching students that live aboard and study in this new global business environment. These new citizens of the world will truly be part of a global community with no borders only ports of call and will explore a new world with boundless floating ambition.

Sail on and Inspire Others to Dream!

New Fleets may be owned by Private Equity Firms

Aaron #44

January 23, 2021

Growing up in the South in the 1960’s, it was an experience and had lots of diverse influences on kids growing up in a very challenging time. Entertainment options in my hometown of Statesboro, Georgia were limited. I was very fortunate to work and play at the Skater-Bowl owned by my Grandparents. Other options were basketball and baseball games at Georgia Southern, going to the Drive In or riding around the A&W in my aunt’s 66 Mustang. The biggest news to me as a little league baseball player was the news in 1966 that the Braves were moving to Atlanta! It was also the fact they had the best player in baseball coming with them, Hank Aaron. The Braves put on a promotional tour and every little leaguer wanted to go and I went to the one at Georgia Southern. Joe Torrie was my instructor and even signed my catcher’s mitt. I wish I knew where it was now.

It was with great sadness to hear of Henry Aaron’s death this week and really reminded me a childhood vision of what it means to be an American Hero. There will be untold stories of Hank Aaron this week but I wanted to write about my personal experience with him. In 1991 the Braves made it to the National League Championship Series against the Pittsburg Pirates. My dad had always wanted to see the Braves play in a Championship Series and I wanted to make sure he got to see a game. I had been working for Major League Baseball to create a sports bar in Pittsburg and thought I might ask for tickets to the game, knowing that it a long shot I asked. To my surprise I got tickets confirmed and made plans to meet my brother Mike and my dad in Atlanta to fly to Pittsburg for the opening game of the series. While driving to the airport in Orlando I realized i had no Braves Hat, shirt or anything Braves so I stopped at the Florida mall and went to a sports shop. I asked for anything Braves but the clerk laughed and said man they are in Championship Series we have been sold out for months, but I have a special collection edition Milwaukee Braves Jersey. I saw an expensive sales pitch coming. He brought out the Jersey and it was number 44, he said this was a replica of Hank Arron’s Jersey in Milwaukee but it cost $300. I’m thinking my wife Ashlie will kill me if I pay $300 for a replica jersey. So I drove towards the airport and then changed my mine I had to have that jersey. I turned around and went back to purchase the Jersey, and now pressing time to get on board I stuffed it in my carry on bag and ran to the flight.

Once in Atlanta I met my brother Mike and Dad in the terminal at the gate. We sat along waiting on our boarding and you won’t believe it; but Hank Aaron came into the waiting area and took a seat just in front of me! My brother, Dad and I were quite surprised to see our baseball hero sitting just feet away. I immediately reached into my carry on bag and pulled out the 1958 Jersey and with much trepidation approached my childhood idol! Mr. Aaron I said, I am from Statesboro Georgia and have been a fan of your since I was 8 years old, would you please sign this Jersey for me? He looked at the Jersey and said “this is a special Jersey of mine”, and then pulled a pen out of his jacket pocket and signed it for me. I was so proud to have met him, and had evidence to show that it was real not fake news! We went to the game and picked up our tickets at MLB Will Call and I wore my signed Jersey with pride. We entered the stadium hoping we had good seats. We met an usher and he led us down towards the field and we were amassed he kept walking down, we usually walk up to the nose bleed seats. We got to the third row from the field just behind the Braves Dugout and he said take your seats! What a game, just feet away form the on-deck circle we had a major league expereince.

I think meeting Mr. Aaron was a real good luck charm. Needless to say we enjoyed the Game and my dad had a great night! That Jersey hangs in my Home today! I pride myself on being inspirational to others but have never know a bigger inspiration to young people than Henry Aaron. Rest in Peace in that great Field of Dreams.

Our third row seats


January 15, 2021

We all lived in a world that looked forward to Fridays as a time of rest and relaxation. For so many of us still under Covid restrictions its just another day in an endless week. In search of escape I took Tuesday and Wednesday off this week with my friend John and went Deep Sea Fishing. I live in Florida and already enjoy an open and mostly free society, thanks to God! We do eat in restaurants, bars and go out on the town. We all need an escape, so I am promoting Deep Sea Fishing and Sport Boating to everyone if you live in a place that allows you to leave home. I went to my friend Martin’s Fishing Headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale. We went drift fishing Tuesday night and then sport boat fishing on Wednesday. It was alike a weekend escape! We caught lots of fish (12 Yellow Tail Snapper), and had a great time with great friends and feel like it was a normal time in the mists of chaos. Please seek out an escape that works for you and start to look for future plans to travel! We in the hospitality industry are working hard to create new concepts and destinations that will provide safe real world experiences and allow us all to get back to dreaming! I plan to offer private escorted travel trips starting in March to assist my friends and family to travel with me when the Caribbean opens up! Ask anyone who has travelled with me about our island adventures, a good time will be had by all! These customized trips will be to Jamaica, Bahamas and St. Martin to start off and expand as the world comes back to a new normal.

Walk Good Everyone and stay Safe but remain inspired to get out again!!!

Orwell’s 1984 in 2021!

January 11, 2021

Welcome to my blog which will now be my connection to my friends, family and business associates. As I woke up today and saw the news about Amazon teaming with Facebook and Twitter against free speech I had to react. I welcome all thought and debate but; do not think anyone should censor individual’s expression or to feel guilty for who you are or what you think. The United States was built on freedom, not fear. As someone who has worked in over 70 counties around the world over the past 30 years; I know we are the best nation in the world by leaps and bounds. Everyone can criticize us and I have heard it all, but everyone in the world wants what we have!

Everyone should continue to share ideas and express your thoughts to the world and do not let anyone tell you how to think, worship or assemble.

Walk Good and Inspire Others to Dream!

Shaken not Stirred

November 10, 2020

This year 2020 has brought everyone in the world a great deal of challenges. Although we all remain confident in the promise of the future our view of the world has been shaken and our emotions stirred beyond our expectations. It was the news of the passing of Sean Connery this week that brought a lot of emotions to the surface. The Bond Character created by Ian Fleming but made real by Sean Connery sets the foundation to a life of inspired good verses evil. Not many things in our daily lives so quickly define the good verses the evil in our own life pursuits. Sean Connery as James Bond clearly sets the mission, precisely told the story and enjoyed the pursuit of its goals. I like the confidence the character built in the mission to save the world against any enemy known or unknown. The quote of Bond’s favorite drink “Shaken not Stirred” not only represents his approach to life and mission at hand but for the viewer a confidence in life ambition.

I had the opportunity to see Mr. Connery outside Nassau Bahamas at a small resort I enjoyed known as Compass Point. He would come in to have a breakfast or lunch from his nearby home in Lyford’s Cay. I have known many celebrities through our my life’s and many have become friends. Yet when I saw Sir Sean Connery enter the room everyone took immediate notice but unexpectedly no one approached him. He had such a command of the room even at later years in his life that just demanded a silent respect. I never approached him or said hello but feel like I know him. I was so appreciative of what he contributed to the world as I know it. He was truly a man with a mission and what an impression he made.

I have spent some time at Chris Blackwell’s Golden Eye the home of Ian Fleming in Jamaica where he wrote the James Bond Novels and have felt the presence of Sean Connery many times as I walk the beach and play the Bond Theme in my head as I feel like James. In this time of reflection I feel Shaken not Stirred to press on in a mission to defeat the evil in the world.

Rest in Peace, Sir Sean Connery never again shaken and never stirred!

Inspired Space

July 17, 2019

Born in 1958, at the beginning of the Space Race, I always knew that I was destined to play a small part of it.

Initially, I thought I was invited to a simple breakfast celebrating the grand opening of one of my inspirations known as The Castle of Miracles, part of the Give Kids the World Foundation (GKTW) in Kissimmee, FL.


The Castle of Miracles, Kissimmee, FL

It was May, 1994 and I’d received a personal invitation from my dear friend and founder of GKTW, Henri Landwirth. So, I packed up my 1-year-old daughter, Charlotte, and headed west towards Kissimmee. Greeted at the door by Mr. Landwirth himself, we were ushered to the table where we would be having breakfast.

One of my life’s greatest surprises lay ahead.

As we got closer to our designated table, I started recognizing the people who sat around it: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, Wally Schirra, John Glenn, Deke Slayton and Alan Shepard. Yes, 6 of the 7 original Gemini astronauts were at my table!  You can just imagine my surprise and delight, and the conversation over bacon and eggs that morning was, pardon the pun, absolutely out of this world!

This incredible meeting furthered my interest in space and led to an assignment at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, AL. Our company, IDEA, Inc., was engaged to rebrand and redefine the future of the rocket center. As part of that rebranding, we discovered the center had, in their possession, a complete Saturn V rocket. Our concept was to display one of the world’s most important artifacts as it would have stood upon its launchpad in 1969, taking man to the moon.

Saturn V 4

Saturn V under construction

Not only did we inspire the board of the USSRC to pursue this dynamic exhibit but it has served as an inspiration throughout my lifetime, as well as the lives of others on our team, that we were a small part of this historic exhibit.

I would encourage anyone interested in space travel to visit Huntsville, stand at the base of the iconic Saturn V, and dream.









Negril Lighthouse

May 22, 2018

I just spent the week reviewing the historic buildings of the Negril Lighthouse.  The site is spectacular and contains building ruins circa 1840’s.   We are evaluating the restoration of these building to complete a tour of the Negril Lighthouse and its surroundings to open again for tourist of Jamaica to enjoy this historic site.

Once restored these building will be part of our new Lighthouse Tour and Craft Village.


Walk Good and Visit Jamaica often!

Another Port of the Year Design

October 4, 2017


View #1_Street_200dpiIt is with great pleasure that I write about our IDEA Team and our second Port of the Year award.  I want to thank the team for their efforts in what was a challenging political environment and still inspire success.   Martin Lucas and I first visited the BVI in 2010 to evaluate the potential as an enhanced cruise port.  We saw that the marketplace needed a world class pier and associated port of call.  After successfully petitioning the new in-experienced government we secured a development agreement with Disney Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Lines.  The effort was no easy task as everyone was un-informed on the Cruise Industry and how it worked.  IDEA’s team worked hard to teach the BVIPA how to play the game and create a port that would not only welcome the Cruise Industry but become a marque destination.  Our Team included Rob Coles as our Design Director and spent over two years on island working to ensure the Pier park was well designed and then drafted by the local Architect.  Our team from Orlando including VHB were also instrumental in guiding the project even with un-educated influences from local politicians and BVIPA administrators.

It is amazing that the port still incomplete has won the prestigious award.  The original designs by IDEA included 19 buildings with a Chapel and Black Swan Tavern as iconic anchor buildings.  We also designed a sustainable building which included a generator that would insure 150% power when the grid was not on line as was the case following  recent storms.  Again the most important Sustainable Building was not built which would have also include emergency Water supply and Sanitary System so that Pier Park could serve to facilitate emergency first responders and allow the island to have a “Safe Zone” it also included a broadcast communications system to insure connectivity following a natural disaster.    It is important for Governments to ensure the security and safety of their populations and building sustainable buildings must be on the top of the list.   I have attached our original design renderings, can you see the things that are missing in the Park today?

Thanks to all that made the project a success in spite of the the limitations and mis management of the project budget.   Our thoughts and prayers are with those who suffered form the deviating storms but know that the islands will recover with proper leadership and support.

Walk Good!

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