PHOTO: Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony in Ensenada, Mexico. (photo by Jason Leppert)
Crystal Cruises recently revealed that Edie Rodriguez would be replaced by Tom Wolber as the luxury line’s president and CEO.
Each executive has already had a storied career, and surely big things await them both in their new roles.
Rodriguez is set to announce a new opportunity during the coming weeks. While it’s not known exactly what her next endeavor might be, you can bet it will be on par with Crystal. She previously came from Azamara Club Cruises, and, provided she remains in the industry, don’t be surprised if she winds up making her way over to someone like The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection.
The newly unveiled brand from the luxury hotelier has been hiring plenty of other cruise veterans to launch its planned three ships. Among its recently acquired players, according to Seatrade Cruise News, are Darius Mehta from a background at Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises as VP Cruise Reservations; Eileen Sill from Silversea as Manager, Air and Hotel; and Laura Hummel from Silversea as Manager, Reservations Services.
Coming from Crystal Cruises is Lyall Duncan as General Counsel, as well as Jari Korpela and Richard Karlsson’s experience with Crystal’s parent company Genting Hong Kong. So, Rodriguez could easily follow this line of departures and apply her luxury branding prowess there accordingly.
Wolber, on the other hand, joins Crystal from Disney. At that company, he served in many prestigious roles including Senior Vice President Operations at Disney Cruise Line and President of Groupe Euro Disney (Disneyland Paris). He’s also held positions at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disney Vacation Club.
In other words, Wolber extensively knows travel—at sea and on land. This is good because Crystal now operates ship, yacht and river cruises as well as flights between shoreside destinations, and it’s only continuing to expand.
In a press release, Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, Chairman of Genting Hong Kong and Crystal Cruises said, “Tom’s proven leadership skills will be invaluable to Crystal as the line takes delivery of four river ships in 2017 and 2018 as well as the first of the ‘Endeavor Class’ expedition yachts in 2019.”
As to his next steps, the chairman added, “His leadership will be key to the finalization of specifications and design for the new ‘Exclusive Class’ oceangoing vessels. Tom has our full confidence and we look forward to working closely with him to ensuring Crystal remains unmatched in the luxury travel segment.”
The trio of Exclusive-class ships have not yet been fully locked, and Wolber will have the chance to contribute to their features. Just how much his stamp influences the portfolio’s future direction is still to be determined.
Following the recently inaugurated Crystal Skye airliner and Crystal Bach riverboat, the Crystal Mahler is next expected to launch in October 2017 with another two new Rhine-class vessels by 2018. The first of three expedition ships, the Crystal Endeavor is scheduled to come online in 2019 with its sisters during 2020 and 2021. The first of the three larger Exclusive-class cruise ships is set for 2022.
Given Crystal’s ever lofty ambitions, it wouldn’t come as a shock if the company decided to tap into Wolber’s expertise and pursue hotel options of its own, but that might best be reserved for the long term.
For now, he can tame the company’s timeline a bit and maintain its current calendar. Future product launches have had frequently shifting dates in the recent past.
While it’s important to delay projects as needed in order to get them right before release, it’s also crucial to let agents and their clients get excited for and await unshifting targets. Wolber’s operations background will particularly come in handy for that.
Crystal also markets to families with periodic promotions, and his Disney days will surely create greater opportunities to expand in that arena. Having sailed on the luxury line many times as a child myself, I’m personally intrigued to see where he will take the company.
We wish both executives well and anticipate great things from them!
This post first appeared on TravelPulse.