New York Cruise Lines (NYCL) has been a leading marine-based tourism, transportation, dining, and entertainment company since 1945. Its brands include the iconic Circle Line Sightseeing Tours, offering daily cruises around the island of Manhattan, New York Water Taxi, North River Lobster Company, La Barca Cantina, and The Beast Speedboat Ride—“a rollercoaster on water.”
The firm operates a fleet of over 20 passenger vessels from three New York City locations. Its tours and restaurants have delighted over 85 million visitors from around the globe.
CEO Craig Kanarick saw a bright future for the company with the easing of pandemic restrictions, but at the same time “the IT department was struggling to function. We need to be world-class in everything we do, but we were constantly fighting fires. We needed a high-level strategy in order to thrive.”
NYCL engaged Freeman Clarke Principal Al Durcan as an interim CTO to collaborate with him and NYCL’s VP of Technology to create a three-year strategic plan—an assessment of the entire technology stack and every vendor, and what the near future looked like in order to guide the investment strategy.
“Al was such a stabilizing force for us,” said Craig. “He was incredibly smart, extremely focused, and emotionally intelligent—a requirement for someone coming into a strange environment. He made everyone calm and feel like he was there to help, as opposed to anxious that some new guy was around trying to figure out what was wrong with everyone.”
Al quickly identified NYCL’s risks and opportunities. To improve business resiliency and save money, he had NYCL accelerate closing its on-site data center and server room and move to the cloud. This had the additional benefit of making it easier to shore up the company’s cybersecurity and data management, as well as greatly improve its web presence and e-commerce platforms. Finally, Al weaned NYCL off “old-fashioned paper records,” as Craig put it, greatly improving document management practices.
Al’s people skills were also crucial for a successful SWOT analysis of the IT team, resulting in a coherent plan for restructuring the department.
Craig noted that “our VP of Tech resigned during Al’s tenure and Al stepped into the full-time role until we recruited and hired a replacement. The work Al did made onboarding our new hire a breeze.”
NYCL’s IT and technology now run much more efficiently, and the business is well-placed to serve the resurgence of tourism in New York City.
“Due to Al’s groundwork, we feel confident we can continue to have best-in-class tech platforms both customer-facing and internal platforms,” Craig said.
“Al was clearly a great choice, and hiring Freeman Clarke was a smart move. They knew what we needed and got us the right person on the first try.”
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