Luxury cruise expert Edie Rodriguez, who spearheaded the transformation of Crystal Cruises, is now lending her expertise to French luxury expedition cruise brand Ponant.
Rodriguez, who abruptly resigned as CEO and president of Crystal Cruises last month, will be the new Americas brand chairman and corporate special adviser to Ponant, a role that involves raising brand awareness for Ponant in the Americas. Rodriguez will be most involved in working with professional networks, including travel agencies, media, influences and prospective passengers, to develop sales growth in the Americas.
She will remain in South Florida, where Crystal also has an office, but work with the 22-person Ponant Americas team based in New York.
This is an on-the-water experience of that trip to Paris or Bordeaux.
Edie Rodriguez, Americas brand chairman and corporate special advisor to Ponant
Rodriguez said in an interview Friday that she welcomes the opportunity and challenge of growing Ponant brand awareness in the Americas.
“They are not very well-known. They really are evolving to be an international brand experience,” Rodriguez said, adding that joining the nearly 30-year-old French line was a “no brainer.”
For the last several years, five-ship Ponant has been building a solid strategy for the American market, Navin Sawhney, CEO of Ponant Americas, said in a release.
Expedition cruising has been growing in popularity in recent years, a surge that is expected to follow a similar pattern as river cruising. Navin Sawhney, CEO of Ponant Americas
Ponant, whose ships carry fewer than 300 passengers, take guests to places as remote as Antarctica, the Kimberly in Australia and the Northwest Passage. The line is also building four new ships that will carry fewer than 200 passengers, and therefore be able to travel to even more remote locations around the globe.
Expedition cruising has been growing in popularity in recent years, a surge that is expected to follow a similar pattern as river cruising, which experienced a major growth spurt in the last five years. At Crystal, Rodriguez led that line’s entrance into the river cruising market early this year, with the addition of two new river yachts in Europe.
“Given our strong ambitions and the real potential of this market, I am happy to see our team strengthened by the arrival of Edie Rodriguez,” Sawhney said.
Rodriguez said she believes the line will appeal to American travelers looking to travel to bucket-list locations — with a French touch.
“We are very proud of the French heritage and the French roots, and becoming an international brand experience that Americans will enjoy, too,” she said. “Americans love French things — we love French food, going to Paris on vacation, going to Bordeaux to drink wine. This is an on-the-water experience of that trip to Paris or Bordeaux.”
Rodriguez joined Crystal after holding several senior sales, marketing and business development positions at Royal Caribbean Cruises and Carnival Corporation. She served as Crystal’s president and chief operating officer from 2013-14 before being promoted to president and CEO in 2015, when the cruise line was acquired by Genting Hong Kong.
Since Rodriguez took the helm as president and CEO, Crystal launched its river line, with a third forthcoming, an expedition yacht, and an ultra luxury, private Boeing 777. The three brands, Crystal Yachts, Crystal River Cruises and Crystal Air, have been instrumental in growing Crystal’s footprint in the luxury travel market. She was succeeded by longtime Walt Disney Company executive Tom Wolber.