Introducing Rick Meadows

September 27, 2007 -

John Heald

Introducing Rick Meadows

Ladies and Gents I would like you to meet Rick, who, as you will see, is someone who is truly passionate about the cruise industry and is now a major part of the continuing success story that is Holland America Line……enjoy

1. Rick, you have had a varied and hugely successful career, please can you tell us how and where it started and where the journey has taken you so far.

Thanks. The cruise industry has provided a lot of people chances to find their own success. Personally, I’ve always had a quest for travel. My Dad worked for TWA his entire career, enabling our family to travel the world, that’s where I got the travel bug.

I started working as a Travel Agent my senior year of high school and continued during college. As an agent, I promoted cruise groups to radio stations. It was then I was introduced to Carnival Cruise Lines by my excellent regional sales manager. Shortly after, I had the opportunity to meet and have dinner with Micky Arison and Bob Dickinson during a trade convention — I was so impressed with their vision of the industry and future plans for Carnival. Within a few months, the regional sales manager relocated, and I had the opportunity to interview for the perfect job. In 1984, I started working for Carnival as the Regional Sales Manager for Kansas and Missouri.

That was an exciting time to join the company, as we had three beautiful new ships joining our fleet – the Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration. After a few years, I took on a new challenge as Director of Sales in the Central US, working with a bright team of 22 sales managers in 19 states.

In 1994 , after 10 years with Carnival Cruise Lines, another challenge presented itself — leading the sales and marketing efforts of our sister company Windstar Cruises in Seattle.

After 6 years, I was given a new opportunity and relocated to Miami to take the position of Vice President of Corporate Marketing. I had a number of interesting projects to work on including developing an e-commerce strategy for the company.

My next move was to lead the sales and marketing efforts of another venerable brand – one that I had so much admiration for – Seabourn. The challenge was to develop a team dedicated to the giving a renewed focus and vision to the leader in ultra luxury cruising.

Most recently, in 2004 I took on another new challenge as Senior VP of Marketing and Sales for Holland America Line. Last year I was promoted to Executive Vice President, Marketing, Sales and Guest Programs – by far the longest title I have ever had!

Although it sounds like I can’t keep a job – I have been fortunate to have had a series of fun, fascinating and rewarding experiences over the past 23 years with one company. And, there are so many like me within Carnival; it really is a great place to work and grow professionally!

2. I have been reading about all the awards that Holland America has won recently……………here are just some.

Consistently Among the Highest-rated Cruise Lines Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards Best Overall Cruise Value (15 consecutive years) World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society, Ocean & Cruise News

High Deluxe Five-Star-Plus Rating

World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society

International Five Star Diamond Award

The American Academy of Hospitality Sciences

Cruise Line with the Highest Client Satisfaction (Large Ships) TravelAge West

Best Alaska Itineraries, Best Canada/New England Itineraries, Best Central America Itineraries, Best Overall Facilities for Physically Challenged Passengers, Best Medical Facilities, Best Art Auction Program, Best Eco-Friendly Cruise Line, Best Private Island Porthole Cruise Magazine Readers’ Choice Awards

So Rick, what’s the secret ingredient to all this success?

The recognition we receive is in a clear result of our delivery of our mission statement; “Through excellence, we create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, every time.” We are dedicated to ensuring that our product remains relevant to what our guests want today, as well as anticipating what they are going to want tomorrow.

3. One of the consistent things I hear is about your Signature of Excellence program and in particular the Culinary Arts Center. Please can you tell us about this concept?

Our Culinary Arts Centers presented by Food & Wine Magazine have become one of the favorite enrichment activities onboard our 13 ships. We invested just over $1 million on each ship to create what is truly a world-class demonstration kitchen. We have worked in cooperation with the world’s foremost culinary publication; Food & Wine magazine on much of the content we deliver. So far, we have had more than 90 celebrity chefs sail with us. On each sailing we offer our guests culinary demonstrations, wine tastings, mixology demonstrations and more. In addition to our complementary culinary demonstrations offered on every ship and every sailing, we also offer hands-on culinary classes, which have been a huge hit.

Learning about and enjoying fine Food & Wine is a passion for so many people. It is a global trend, and yet another way to better understanding the diverse destinations we visit.

4. Being involved directly in the Sales and Marketing aspects of Holland America is there one particular demographic and one particular nationality you aim for.

Most of our guests come from the US and Canada. Though more and more people from Australia, the UK and Europe are sailing with us. The premium onboard experience we provide is perfect for a multitude of nationalities around the globe.

5.Last month I was in the Venice shipyard and I saw the new Eurodam under construction. What can you tell us about this ship, how will she be different.

The Eurodam is an evolution of our brand, and she’ll feature the familiar Holland America Line public areas and feeling as well as some new and exciting areas. I am really looking forward to our new pan-Asian restaurant – the location on the ship is going to offer some spectacular views and I got a peek at the preliminary menus and it looks great.

I encourage all of your readers to check the progress of the Eurodam and learn more about her on our new blog, http://www.eurodamnews.com/ . Let us know what you think.

6. There has been, in the past, some misconception that Carnival Cruise Lines was just for “party people” and thanks to our marketing department the image of today’s Carnival is very much different. On the same lines there was a time that Holland America was just for old people and their parents. That image has also been eradicated……..how did you manage this?

Yes, that old stereotype has gone. It’s been a combination of efforts over several years that’s resulted in this change. Our Signature of Excellence initiative has been key to changing that perception. And, it’s become an ongoing commitment to developing and enhancing our product. From our Marniers Dream bed and stateroom experience, Explorations Café powered by the New York Times – we have crafted the product to appeal to today’s cruiser. The diversity of our where our ships go has also provided many choices to guests of any age group. Whether you are traveling on a round the world voyage of 113 days or 7 days to the Mexican Rivera – it’s easy to find a cruise that’s a perfect fit regardless of how young you are.

7.For those people who have never sailed with Holland America Line can you pick one ship and one itinerary that would be just perfect to show off your ships, service and excellence.

That’s a tough one. Every year we sail to all 7 continents, on over 150 different itineraries to over 300 ports of call. One of the facts that is key to delivering a great experience is the size of our ships. They range in size from just under 800 guests to a maximum of about 2,000 guests. Our mid size allows us to provide some really interesting itineraries.

But one of my favorites, and a place I never tire of visiting, is Alaska. I have been there several times and each time I am amazed and impressed all over again. And, we’ve has been offering tours in Alaska for more than 60 years, so we know the place better than anyone.

8. Another constant comment is how wonderful your private island is. What are the marketing benefits having this island on your itinerary and what makes it so special.

Half Moon Cay is one of our highest-rated ports. It is quite simply, a perfect beach and activity port. The sand is so white and soft, it reminds me of baby powder. It has a 2-mile long crescent beach, a huge interior lagoon and all sorts of fun things to do like swimming with stingrays, snorkeling, scuba diving, nature walks and even horseback rides that include swimming horses!

Many people who visit suggest we call there multiple times on a cruise!

9. Having been in the industry for some years I am sure you have been to some wonderful ports of call. What are you three favorite destinations and why.

Istanbul, Turkey – The sights and sounds of sailing into Istanbul very early in the morning is something I’ll never forget.

Christchurch, New Zealand – Ok it’s really hard to pick my favorite place in New Zealand. It’s simply a fantastic country with amazing scenery, culture, things to do and explore.

Venice, Italy – What an incredible place to spend time. Art, History, fine Italian food – how can it get any better ?

10. We always like to end these interviews by gleaning some personal information on our guests……….so here we go.

Your favorite lounge or public area on a Holland America ship

The Crow’s Nest. The views are simply fantastic and it’s a great venue for sharing a drink and conversation with friends.

You are sitting on deck, it’s sunset what are you drinking, reading and what’s on your Ipod thingy?

I’m drinking a glass of a Washington state cabernet (Washington wines are just fantastic!). I’d likely be reading a magazine on boating as I’m a new boating enthusiast. I always have my iPod along with me, and would be listening to jazz – possibly something classic like Miles Davis.

And now it is dinnertime and the chef has offered to cook you anything you want……….what is for dinner and choose your 6 famous tablemates from today or yesterday

Growing up in the Midwest, I can’t resist a great steak to go with that cabernet. I’d love to share the table with my partner Brent, Robert Mondavi, Dr. Andrew Weil, Maya Angelou, Melissa Etheridge, John Cleese, and my late mother (who is famous, and precious, to me).

Thanks Rick and congratulations on a brilliant interview. I am certain many bloggers will write in to say thanks as well. We all wish you continued happiness and success.

Hi, I’m John, and this is my blog. So please don’t mistake my opinions — or those of my dear friends, fans or commenters — for those of Carnival Cruise Line or Carnival Corporation. My apologies in advance for anything I may say that upsets you, but this disclaimer covers Carnival and puts the blame directly on me………….. bugger.