Q&A: Paul Mooney on Hospitality
Recently, we caught up with Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo Advisory Board Member Paul Mooney. Paul has 30 years of experience working in cruise ship hospitality with some of the world’s leading cruise lines of various sizes. After an exciting career working as a chef, and later in food and beverage management, Paul has recently begun a new position at Hurtigruten Expeditions as Hotel General Manager. Read on to learn more about his new role, sustainable cruising, and the future of hospitality.
Congratulations on your new role as Hotel General Manager at Hurtigruten Expeditions. What are you looking forward to getting stuck into in this new position?
It has been quite a change. I looked at my career over the past 20-30 years and knew I wanted to do something different. I’ve been watching Hurtigruten Expeditions over the last few years and seen it evolve, so I was really excited to be approached for this position.
Hurtigruten Expeditions have put together some wonderfully experienced people who I am happy to be working with on their latest ship, MS Maud. It has been great to be a part of this project and I am really looking forward to 22nd September when MS Maud sails out of Dover. I am also looking forward to getting back to being with guests, as I’ve missed engaging with them.
Hurtigruten Expeditions has taken some impressive actions to reduce their carbon footprint. How do you ensure that balance between providing high quality guest experiences whilst caring for the environment?
I’d like to think that Hurtigruten Expeditions is the leading expedition cruise line in the world. They were really at the forefront of getting rid of heavy oils seen ten years ago. They also own the first ever hybrid electric expedition powered cruise ships. So, they’ve really led in changing the industry and setting a standard.
Food and beverages are also part of that. One thing we’re trying to do better is buying fresh from the port we’re in and cooking that in the evening, rather than importing it. It’s all about using local produce. The quality is as good as anything else you can have anywhere else in the world, but with a Scandinavian twist. We have everything from fine dining to street food, so guests are given great value for money.
I think that the balance of quality is certainly there with the engagement and what we deliver as a product. What I have noticed when I speak to the guests is that they’re very passionate about the environment. They want to be part of something, and I think Hurtigruten Expeditions offers that.
Previously you’ve worked as a chef, then in food and beverage management, and now hospitality management. Do you feel that there are any crossovers or similarities in these roles?
I think that one of the most important things is finding like-minded people with the same passion. When you get that recipe of ingredients, as in people who love what they do, then you’ve hit the nail on the head and you’re going to have a home-run in delivering a great product. That’s where you have a transfer of passion for the industry.
Also, there are similarities when it comes to delegation and leadership, especially in the kitchen. It is not just about cooking, it’s about leading a team of people. You are bringing them together to think the same, work the same, and deliver with the same goal. Crossing over into food and beverage is the same thing. You’re now in charge of not just leading the food team, but the service team as well. You’re making sure that both teams work cohesively to bring a fantastic product together under one umbrella. So, I really love the people part of it. The transfer of skills starts with the people I believe, of being a good manager, a good leader, and making a well-rounded product.
What do you predict we will see in the future of cruise hospitality?
I think that we will see more of what Hurtigruten Expeditions has started: this green focus on travel, more specifically in the cruise industry. For more than 20 years we’ve been trying to do what’s best for the environment, and I think we will start to see more restrictions. I also think the public is more conscious now. It is the guests who will demand more planet friendly ways of travel, changing how we grow the industry. We were one of the first companies that went plastic free around three or four years ago. This even gets to the point where you’re looking at the delivery of food, the delivery of items, the packaging it comes in, and whether that can be recycled. I believe you should translate that to assure your guests that you are doing the very best you can to help the planet. I think that will be as important a part of choosing a cruise vacation as the food and beverages, the Las Vegas style shows and the itineraries moving forward.
As an Advisory Board Member for Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo, what do you feel is the value of attending this event for anyone involved in the cruise hospitality industry?
For me, first and foremost, it’s the networking. You may have chatted with somebody on LinkedIn and seen their profile, but now they’re in front of you and you can engage. When you’re going round the stands and meeting different people, you are also looking at different concepts and different trends that are coming in. I enjoyed the expo in Barcelona a couple of years ago (Cruise Ship Interiors Expo Europe 2019) and had a great time meeting designers there. I found it’s quite a tight community that comes together. You can only get that from going to an exhibition and exchanging cards or having a cup of coffee or even a meal together, and that’s what I think the big benefit for me was, meeting people and networking. That’s the most important thing. People, trends, and looking for new ideas, I think those would be the biggest reasons to attend.
Cruise Ship Hospitality Expo is the largest event in cruise ship hospitality. Find out more about this action-packed event here.