Carmen Gil, purchasing manager, revitalizations, Royal Caribbean Cruises“When we’re looking for turnkey suppliers, we are looking for suppliers that meet our needs, can source locally and are able to subcontract locally,” said Carmen Gil, purchasing manager, revitalizations, Royal Caribbean Cruises, talking about the Royal Advantage refurbishment program at the Cruise Shipping Asia-Pacific conference and trade show in Singapore.

2013 and 2014 will be big refurbishment years for Royal Caribbean Cruises, with eight ships scheduled for Royal Caribbean International, in addition to three for Celebrity Cruises and another two for Azamara Club Cruises.

“When we’re ready to start a project, we do the sourcing strategy and start thinking about who we are inviting to bid. We look at past suppliers,” said Gil, explaining Royal Caribbean had rating systems in place for previous suppliers.

“We have to look at the risk level as well as anything else,” Gil continued, adding that the company wants to bring in new suppliers.

“The experience in quality and outfitting, being able to remove carpet and follow diagrams and anticipating problems and being able to fix them is important, including being able to re-upholster furniture,” she added. “We want full turnkey in (some) spaces. Suppliers need to anticipate as many things as possible and have the expertise to handle things as they come up.”

Not only is Royal Caribbean looking for pricing and quality, but looks closely at speed, wanting efficient suppliers to reduce drydock times.

Steel work companies should also be able to do structural work to the pool decks, adding structural enhancements for the bigger projects. “The big steel work is done by the yard, but we have a lot of other projects that are going on,” noted Gil.

Challenges, meanwhile, are the lack of local experience in Asia-Pacific, with a cruise market just getting off the ground.

“When we look to local suppliers for turnkey, we are looking to save money,” Gil said, with reduced shipping costs and local labor forces. “We have not found the savings there (in Asia) we thought we would.”

Asia-Pacific suppliers could also land business for other refits in Europe or North America provided they meet expectations in Asia first.

“Post Rhapsody of the Seas (refurbished at Sembawang in 2012), we have a wider network of suppliers,” Gil stated. “But we’d like to expand it even more.”