A Southampton youngster has been chosen to help shape the future of cruise ships. Eleven-year-old Ben O’Donnell, of Bitterne, has been selected by Royal Caribbean to join its first ever panel of youngsters as it seeks expertise on how to make its ships as family-friendly as possible.
Last year, Ben spent three months building the Independence of the Seas in his own bedroom using Lego. Containing more than 2,000 pieces, Ben decided to reconstruct his favourite ship after seeing it pass his bedroom window.
Royal Caribbean say it’s Ben’s “intelligence, initiative and passion for cruise ships” that saw him selected for the panel, called Little Extraordinaires.
Ben says: “I’ve always been interested in Royal Caribbean’s cruise ships and how they are designed. I love going down to Southampton docks at the weekend to watch them come and go as they travel all around the world.
“To be a part of the Little Extraordinaires and share my ideas for real cruise ship designs is amazing!”
The children’s panel will be responsible for liaising with Royal Caribbean’s top bosses in helping to shape the cruise ships of the future.
Generational expert Dr Paul Redmond says: “For the travel industry, this age is an important cohort. Not only do they exert a powerful influence on their parents – who are extremely tuned into their well-being and personal development – but they are a generation that care more for experiences than possessions.
“Moreover, as a generation which has grown up with more digital technology at their fingertips than NASA used to launch the space shuttle, they expect to see innovation embedded in the experiences around them.”
Ben Bouldin, associate vice president and managing director for UK and Ireland, adds: “The Little Extraodinaires will be given the chance to provide feedback directly to our most senior team. We truly value their comments and you never know where the next big idea will come from!”
After Ben’s building of the ship in his own room, he then got the chance to tour the ship with the captain.
The vessel is 339-metres long, 15 decks high and can carry more than 4,000 passengers.
Story by the Southern Daily Echo.