Norwegian Cruise Line’s Marc McArthur was crowned Diageo Global Travel’s best bartender at the semi-finals of the World Class Best Bartender of the Year event in Miami last month.
McArthur beat competitors from Celebrity Cruises and Seabourn Cruise Line to advance to the global final against 56 of the world’s best bartenders in August in Mexico City.
“The World Class program is devised to educate and inspire bartenders to deliver outstanding drinking experiences, and I’m delighted we can offer this experience to cruise line bartenders on board our partners’ ships. Last night we witnessed a thrilling com-petition showcasing a remarkable standard of craftsmanship and creativity. We want to congratulate all of our finalists and wish Marc the very best of luck at the World Class Global Final in August,” says Marcos Bibas, Commercial Director, Diageo Americas, following the competition.
Speaking with TMI at the event, Bibas added: “Traditionally, travel retail has been focused on airports. Now cruise is growing. It is the perfect channel to show our brands. For Diageo it is a channel to invest, it is a channel that is growing, and we have the best portfolio of award-winning spirits from the Diageo Reserve collection.”
The judging panel was made up of some of the bar industry’s top experts, including Enrique De Colsa, Master Distiller of Tequila Don Julio; Ben Potts, one of Miami’s best bartenders; and last year’s World Class Bartender of the Year, Jennifer Le Nechet.
The judges graded the semi-finalists on a range of elements of their craft, creativity, knowledge, storytelling, presentation and the overall delivered drinking experience.
“Cruise is part of our key strategic items on our agenda. We’ve put a lot of emphasis over the years on our cruise partners. We realize there is a lot of opportunity there to elevate the drinking experience. When we think about World Class, our portfolio and what we have to offer is a great combination,”Adriana Pocaterra, , told TMI.
“The amount that Diageo has invested in the online platforms to train the bartenders on board, and sending staff to train them, is truly geared towards growing the cruise channel. There are lots of opportunities, and there are more ships everywhere. We see that the staff is rotating more and more, and we want to keep them engaged, we want to retain them, and we want to elevate the guest experience,” she said.
Karl Muhlberger, Vice President of Food and Beverage Operations and Development, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., went on to comment:
“We are really proud of this win and we thank Diageo Global Travel Americas for recognizing Marc for his talent and skills. We are continuously investing in the training and development of our beverage team and we pick the top team member every year to compete with the best of the best. The great thing is the World Class program not only inspires other team members to what they can achieve, but it also benefits our onboard guests.
“We hold a lot of onboard tastings and educational events for our guests: wine tastings, beer tastings, and tastings events with different types of whiskey. Our guests are also interested in the ingredients that we use, so we hold a lot of mixology events. The guests have high expectations as they see a lot of this now on Food Network on a daily basis at home. And they are booking Norwegian Cruise Line because of the superb bartenders and the great service that they deliver on our ships, the quality of our beverage packages, and the variety of onboard bars and lounges – such as the industry’s only ice bar at sea on some of our ships.
“Bartending is a fascinating business on our ships, and the Food and Beverage team is significant on our ships. Dining has evolved over the years so that bars and lounges became an important aspect of our guest experience, and we have approximately 2200 talented team members delivering great food and beverages experiences aboard each of our ships,” concluded Muhlberger.