Edie Rodriguez, President & CEO of Crystal Cruises
As the only female CEO of a luxury cruise brand and now all things Crystal from private jets to yachts worldwide, Edie Rodriguez is one of the most-respected (and busiest!) executives in the luxury travel business. We snagged a few hours of her time recently to chat about how she’s gotten to where she is and how she gets it all done (hint: creative collaboration is key!)
ETI: What is your current role and what did you do before this?
ER: I’ve been at Crystal since October 2013, as President & CEO. I’ve worked in the travel industry for 35 years and before this role, most recently to joining Crystal, I was an SVP for another cruise line brand.
ETI: What do you enjoy most about your day to day experiences in this role?
ER: I am passionately in love with everything that I do in this role. Perhaps what I enjoy most day to day is all of the variety of skill sets and hard work that goes in to expanding this most powerful brand name in luxury cruising and building the growing team that will work hard with me to bring all of Crystal’s growth to fruition. I guess said another way, the creative collaboration of team work.
ETI: Where did you start your career? What was the most unexpected aspect of your career path?
ER: I have always had a wanderlust to travel the world in a luxurious manner. Being the independent person that I am, I had to figure out how to then fund my goal and dream of traveling to every country in the world. So, I started out as a Travel Consultant. The most unexpected turn perhaps was when I made the decision to leave being a Travel Agency Manager to go to work for Amadeus, the Global Distribution System (GDS) technology company and ended up running their global cruise line division.
ETI: If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what direction do you think you would have followed?
ER: I would have loved to have been “Jane Bond”, a spy for our government.
ETI:As someone who travels frequently, tell us three things you cannot travel without?
ER: 1) My passport (which needs to be valid for six months past my return date of travel and filled with enough empty pages to be stamped), 2) My two iPhones, one for work and one personal, with chargers, back up batteries and converters, 3) My make-up bag!
ETI: Most exciting/memorable thing that has happened to you while traveling?
ER: Being able to see Rod Stewart perform in Las Vegas for my 50th birthday and him inviting me on stage to sing to me.
ETI: What to you constitutes a true luxury travel experience?
ER: Service. It is all about the little touches that surprise and delight and mean so much. Also E.C.O., a three character acronym that I’ve coined for exclusivity, customization and options. These three components and service combined equal a true luxury experience along with the opportunity not to be rushed, as time to create memories of a lifetime is critical as well.
ETI: Where in the world have you experienced the absolute best travel experience and why?
ER: On Crystal Cruises! Before I accepted the job, I sailed incognito, as my passport is in my maiden name. I was surprised and delighted perpetually. It is important to note that I am a very demanding luxury traveler/consumer, so it takes a lot to impress me. I always say that I don’t say these things because I work here, but rather, I work here because it is true!
ETI: Favorite places to shop and dine around the globe?
ER: Rome, Florence (and all of Tuscany) and Milan. What can I say, I love all things Italian.
ETI: Three favorite restaurants to share?
ER: 1) Nobu on both Crystal Serenity and Symphony, 2) Michelin star La Rocca at the 800 year old Etruscan Castle that is a Unesco World Heritage site in the village of Castelfalfi in Tuscany, 3) Alinea in Chicago, which is a truly decadent dining experience.
ETI: Words of advice for jet-setting travelers who might consider a Crystal cruise soon?
ER: Find a fabulous Travel Consultant that can help you decide on the best itinerary for your individual needs, wants and desires on this particular vacation experience and book it asap!