Orlando Ashford is the recently appointed President of the uber-stylish Holland America Line (HAL). A newcomer to the cruise industry, he brings a fresh vision to the already impressive HAL cruising experience.
His aim, he tells YourLifeChoices in an exclusive interview, is to deliver enriching journeys where HAL guests can touch, feel and taste the world. Ambitious? Sure he is, but his previous experience (including winning an award for ‘most innovative executive and authoring business book Talentism) equips Orlando to leverage the thing he feels to be most important, and that is the power of listening – ‘full listening’ he calls it – to enable his team to change the world through travel.
And it’s not just the crew and head office staff who have Orlando’s undivided attention. It’s passengers as well. Once a year HAL offers a ‘cruise with the CEO’ experience, which enables Orlando to spend time with regular guests and hold town hall-style meetings to hear their feedback and find out what they want most from their cruise adventures.
He has learned that most passengers want much more than just a list of destinations. Many are deeply interested in experiencing diverse history, art, religious, cultural and culinary sites and activities in a much more personal way.
And most of all, he believes, it’s the ‘moment’ that defines a successful travel adventure. For Orlando, this happened one sunny Easter Sunday in Israel at the amphitheatre where Paul the disciple preached. “It was indescribable”, he says, “…and ticked the box of a moment you can never experience again, anywhere else in the world.”
Another such highlight he recommends is the private after-hours tour of the famed Dutch Golden Age Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, home to Vermeer and Rembrandt masterpieces.
Orlando’s last word?
“You won’t know if you don’t go – and then you can come back and tell your story”.
HAL has recently launched its latest cruise ship, ms Koningsdam, a stunning 2650-passenger vessel. On board are many outstanding features including a ‘make your own blend’ winemaking experience and dedicated solo traveller staterooms. ms Koningsdam cruisers can now also experience the most famous masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum, as reproductions will be displayed throughout this new ship, along with a dedicated workshop space where guests can unleash their own creativity in guided art classes.
Find out how to get on board in 2016/17