How Carnival Sailed Toward Global Data Alignment


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Acquisitions helped Carnival Corporation become the world’s largest travel leisure company, with a combined fleet of more than 102 vessels across nine cruise line brands including Princess Cruises, Holland America, Cunard, and, of course, Carnival.

But more vessels also meant more parts to track, leading to operational challenges. “Think about cruise ships being floating cities with a number of data systems and pieces of equipment on board,” said Doug Frauenberger, Director of Strategic Initiatives at Carnival Corporation. Each ship carries hundreds of millions of dollars of inventory and across Carnival Corporation’s fleet there are 1.5 million spare parts.

Shipboard databases and ERP systems handled tracking parts information, leading to data silos throughout the company. Data quality also varied across the fleet. “Consistency on what [data] goes in what field was never our focus. Without a data standard and strong central governance, keeping data quality was challenging,” he said.

Unaligned data “leaves money on the table”

Lacking a comprehensive, global view of parts data across the entire fleet also had business implications for Carnival Corporation. There was limited insight into how much the company was paying for parts or how frequently equipment required repairs. The need to drive business insight from equipment data grew more pressing as Carnival Corporation adopted a new approach to ship building. Under this method, vessels would contain the same parts. Carnival wanted to use data on how parts performed on its current vessels and how much suppliers charged for them to determine what equipment to use in its new vessels.

“For a company of our size, not having the data aligned was seen as leaving money on the table. We saw this project as an opportunity to align our data and really leverage its scale,” said Frauenberger.

By aligning data, Carnival looked to achieve business outcomes including:

  • Reducing repair costs by using equipment with fewer maintenance issues.
  • Better negotiating prices by identifying which vendors it purchased the majority of its parts and components from.
  • Saving money by purchasing equipment in countries with lower prices.

But obtaining this information required a global database of part and component data. “Not having globalized data really limits our ability to understand asset performance, mean time between failure, mean time to repair, and the total cost of ownership of those assets,” Frauenberger said.


Creating golden database data by unifying data across the entire fleet was key if Carnival Corporation wanted to leverage part and component data for business outcomes. Installing the same ERP system in every ship without data mastering would have provided supply chain and consumption data for one ship or brand. For meaningful business insight, a global view was necessary. “We recognized that just putting the ships on a common system without aligning the data isn’t going to drive the value we need. It’s hard to connect the dots when the data’s not global,”

Sailing toward global part and component data mastering

To help master component and part data and create a fleet-wide golden database, Carnival Corporation deployed Tamr. Initially, data across one class of ships was mastered and added to the golden database. This process will be repeated for other vessel classes or ships that were built at the same shipyard during the same time period.

Component data mastering “is really challenging to do on spreadsheets at this scale. Sorting and filtering, especially when you don’t have data standards makes it pretty tough. That’s where, where Tamr really has driven value for us. It does a lot of that heavy lifting and data organization,” Frauenberger said. “One reason why this has been talked about at Carnival for the last 10 years and maybe hasn’t gained traction is because of the known challenge of getting data mastered.”

Part and component data mastering has helped Carnival Corporation with:

  • Spend analytics: Global visibility into part and component transactions helps Carnival Corporation get better prices from suppliers. “Having master data in Tamr, [our teams] were able to help our procurement and sourcing team get laser-focused — instead of optimizing the spend of 20,000 or 30,000 parts, let’s focus on where we spend our money.”
  • Supply chain management: Carnival Corporation better utilizes existing inventory by first searching the golden database for a part instead of purchasing it. “If it’s not being used on one ship, another ship can use it and we avoid the cash outlay. The value is the ability to redeploy existing inventory.”
  • Jobs mastering: Aligning part and component data leads to better asset maintenance. “What jobs are driving maintenance failures because we’re over maintaining? Do we need to do all those jobs? Where can we do fewer jobs?”.

    Ultimately, data mastering will help Carnival Corporation spend money and manage its supply chain more strategically. Questions like why is a pump failing after a maintenance job, can we stock parts in regional warehouses instead of on ships, and do we save money by purchasing generic parts can be answered by turning to a unified component and part database.

    “We’ve been able to use [mastered data] outputs for short term gain as well as really shape how we want to operate the business going forward. It unlocks a lot of opportunities,” Frauenberger said.

    To hear the complete story, watch the full webinar on-demand.