Crystal Cruises's Edie Rodriguez is turning a two-ship operation into an armada of international luxury.
INTERVIEW BY LILY WAN
PHOTOS BY ERIKA LARSEN
Last year marked Crystal Cruises’s 25th anniversary, and you announced big plans for the future, including expanding into river cruises, adding a fleet of aircrafts, and filling 144 multi-million dollar cruise-condos. That’s really exciting.
Forty-eight condos for each of the three new vessels.
What has been your greatest challenge since taking over as CEO in 2015?
I never see things in life as challenges; I look at everything as an opportunity and ask, “How do we make something the most positive?” But clearly, [the biggest challenge has been] really keeping the focus on our core brand, while growing at rapid speed.
How do you think the defining touches of luxury differ across, say, a cruise, a flight, and a hotel?
I’ve coined a three-character acronym that I call ECO. It stands for Exclusivity, Customization, and Options. Those three key components are what today’s global luxury consumer wants. Our goal is to deliver the Crystal ambiance, service, and experience across different genres. As an example, if you go on the Esprit yacht, you will know that you’re in a Crystal world, but it’s a yachting experience, which is different than a cruising experience—more casual, much more water sports-intensive, etcetera. It’s important that guests feel “Crystal” in whatever experience they’re having [with us].
And for those of us who’ve never had the opportunity, what exactly is the Crystal experience?
I don’t say this because I work here, I work here because it’s true: What makes Crystal so different, really, is the service. And I realize “service” is a term like “beauty”—it’s in the eye of the beholder. But the service on Crystal is exceptional. It’s all about the interaction with the guest.
Can you share more about how you’re involved in the process of designing the experience?
I push the team to make sure they’re offering options for, say, a multi-generational family traveling together, a couple going for a romantic getaway, or a bunch of single people on vacation. Whatever the audience, there should be exclusivity, customization, and options. Hence the ECO foundation of everything we do.
You’ve said that as a type-A, New York personality, you don’t know how to relax—you’re constantly working because you love what you do. That’s kind of funny for someone leading a brand built on the experience of ultimate relaxation, don’t you think?
I do know how to relax, but in the Edie style of relaxing. When I go on vacation, it’s my nature to do my emails and conference calls, and then go off and enjoy [my surroundings]. I don’t want to be this way, believe me. But it’s the only way I know how to be. I’m a multitasker—I might be on my email at the same time I’m, you know, viewing a Klimt at the Belvedere Castle in Vienna. It doesn’t interfere with experiencing, seeing, and doing everything that I want.
What place do you want to visit that you haven’t been to yet, and how do you want to experience it?
I’ve been to more than 100 countries—I have my goal of visiting every country in the world, and at last count, that’s about 195, so I’m a just a little over halfway there. One of the places that I would love to go to is India. I want to experience it in a luxurious way, going to all of the top hotels.
Well, now I want to go on a vacation. Thank you, Edie.
Have a crystal clear day.