Royal Caribbean cruise ship

Speaker Corner: Cynthia Martinez, Royal Caribbean Cruises

By: Sophie Maerowitz

November 22, 2017

As anticipation for the 2018 Social Shake-Up Show builds, our goal is to go beyond the head shots and bios and get to know some of our amazing speakers—from the daily roles they play at their brands to their top communications predictions for 2018.


Cynthia Martinez, Director, Corporate Reputation, Global Corporate Communications, Royal Caribbean Cruises

This week we talked to Cynthia Martinez, director of corporate reputation and global corporate communications at Royal Caribbean Cruises, who’ll be speaking on the crisis management panel at The Social Shake-Up May 7-9, 2018 in Atlanta.

Social Shake-Up: What does your typical day look like?
Martinez: [Laughs] I wish it were that easy. I handle both internal and external communications for the corporation, which includes six different brands. I oversee media relations, executive visibility, crisis issues, and internal communications for all 600 employees, both on land and at sea. So I don’t have a typical day—it changes depending on what pops up.

Social Shake-Up: What kinds of crises do you deal with at Royal Caribbean?
Martinez: Anything from weather that changes a ship’s itinerary to a mechanical or fire issue. For a smaller issue, like a regular hurricane season, we have multiple ships in the Caribbean; so there might be one to four ships to change itineraries for. We write captains’ announcements, letters to guests and content for our websites.

For anything larger that has the potential to damage reputation, there’s a situation-response team that gets together at our headquarters or via conference call to look at the situation. Among other tasks, we’d be answering media inquiries, posting to Twitter and writing communications for our captains.

Social Shake-Up: What are your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We had a pretty quiet 2017; no major crises this year. We did have a very active hurricane season, however—one lesson we learned is to put our guests and employees first. If we made any itinerary changes, we needed guests to know as soon as possible. And with faster cancellations, we were able to use ships to evacuate our employees in South Florida and in Puerto Rico. We wanted to take advantage of those opportunities to help those we could.

In 2016, we had a ship that got caught in bad weather. We heard about the storm on social media—guests were live streaming from the ship. This taught us to set up a system in-house to track social media at all times; even on weekends. (The big crisis happened Super Bowl Sunday.)

We also learned how “live” the online environment truly is. Reporters were interviewing guests on the boat using Skype and Facebook Live. That’s a new reality going forward—there’s no way to shut the internet down in a crisis.

Social Shake-Up: What are your top predictions for 2018?
I wish I had a crystal ball! But I know we’ll continue to see more journalists looking for visuals to tell a story.

This was different when the internet was slower and before smartphones were truly smart. Now information is fast and instant—and if a crisis happens, there’s a good chance someone captured it.

So I would imagine that in 2018 we’ll all need to learn how to provide better visual media to the press—in the company’s voice.


Follow Cynthia: @CrisisCommChick

Follow Sophie: @SophieMaerowitz

At The Social Shake-Up