Weekly Wednesday – Starboard Cruise Services

December, 2014: “Sr. Manager of Training and Development” the post read on LinkedIn. The job listing was also accompanied by a question like, “How would you like to travel the world while helping train staff on cruise ships?” Training and cruising together in one package? That sounded good to me and so I applied!

While I never heard back from Starboard about the training gig, I spent plenty of time learning about the organization and the work they do. Self-proclaimed as the “premier retailer in the cruise industry,” if you’ve shopped aboard a cruise ship, you’ve likely interacted with the organization and didn’t even realize it.

Starboard’s List of Cruise Partners (starboardcruise.com)

Founded in 1958, Starboard Cruise Services operates on more than 90 cruise ships worldwide with a staff of more than 1,500. The company is headquartered in Miami and operates a distribution center in Doral, Florida that supports global operation. The organization manages retail storefronts for major cruise lines under parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (yes, that Louis Vuitton who acquired SCS in 2000). Some of the luxury brands represented under SCS include Bvlgari, Chanel, Cartier, Dior, TAG Heuer, and Tiffany & Co. with nearly three dozen brands in all.

As I was reading my daily #cruisenews, I got to wondering, “What happens to a company whose business model is dedicated to cruise ships when cruise ships aren’t sailing?” so I began to dig.

In April, President & CEO of Starboard Cruise Services, Lisa Bauer, was interviewed as part of the Adapt & Survive series put on by TRBusiness (interesting fact: Bauer joined the organization in June, 2019; just nine months before a global shutdown of the cruise industry).

Bauer shared in that interview that the Starboard business model isn’t like other retailers where you can go down and unlock the store and begin selling again. With none of the partner cruise lines running, the organization had effectively shut down. She acknowledged the few active staff on ships were those employees in place for asset protection. With no stores to bring in income, the organization confirmed they received funding from parent company to navigate the shutdown.

Less than two weeks after that interview, news broke that SCS eliminated over 200 jobs at both their headquarters and distribution center in response to the pandemic. The company would now operate with a skeleton crew.

Since that time, Bauer has participated in multiple webinars, like “Emerging Stronger in a post-COVID world” where she joined fellow panelists to discuss strategies in preparing retail for recovery post the COVID19 crisis. Additionally, the company has been active on their Facebook page celebrating every holiday that passes while vocally advocating for causes in the diversity and inclusion space.

In October of this year, Bauer once again was front and center online where she spoke about the company’s vision for the future:

Based on consumer research and insights that are shaping today’s guest expectations, we are reimagining retail experiences that are customized for each cruise line partner, its brand distinctions and guest preferences.

Lisa Bauer, President and CEO, Starboard Cruise Services

In addition to evaluating the core audience for each cruise brand, the company will also pivot to focus on digital and omnichannel. Interestingly, Bauer believes that the future of cruise retail must begin even before shoppers leave their homes. It’ll be fun to see what this looks like and how the retail experience aboard cruise ships evolves in the coming years.

Courtesy Starboard Cruise Services

While I never got the chance to know what it was like to work for Starboard Cruise Services, I wish Lisa and the entire team much success in the future as passengers flock back to stores with a new appreciation of what it means to be able to shop at sea.

2 thoughts on “Weekly Wednesday – Starboard Cruise Services”

  1. Hi I recently cruised on Norwegian Encore in Feb 2023 I purchased 2x tudor watches and earings for my wife on returning to England I took the watches to a tudor dealer who told me one the watches is discontinued line and I had paid over the price the salesman never told me this… maybe he wasn’t aware but I’m not happy… being a 3 time cruiser

    1. Oh dear! That’s one of the risks of buying anything on a cruise ship, whether it’s jewelry, watches, alcohol, cigarettes. You just don’t know if what you’re getting is authentic and current. Sorry to hear that you encountered these issues with your transaction. Not sure if there’s anything you can do; perhaps reach out to Norwegian Cruise Lines, though from our experience, those jewelry/watch vendors are usually a third-party company. It’s always buyer beware when sailing since you don’t have access to appraisals or as much research while at sea.

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