Even Crystal’s president is dazzled by the onboard experiences that make Crystal special. As she shared during an interview with Don George, Edie Rodriguez knew Crystal was the right fit for her at this “Crystal Moment…”
I first became aware of Crystal right when the brand was being born, before a ship had even sailed. I’ve been in the travel industry for 32 years, and for part of my career I was in charge of the global cruise division for Amadeus. I had 90 percent market share there, and I tried to get Crystal to be my customer.
The only time I had ever set foot on Crystal at that point, back in the early ‘90s, was when I had been invited to a dinner on board. I got to walk around the ship, and it was beautiful. I got the beauty of it, but what I didn’t get was that magic and the exceptional experience that occurs when you’re actually sailing.
Fast forward all these years later to 2013. At this point in my career, I had sailed on—without exaggeration—every cruise brand except Crystal. And therein lies the irony. I’m a very passionate person and I have to sell an experience from the things that I really love. So when I was contemplating accepting the wonderful opportunity to join Crystal, I knew I needed to sail and see the brand myself.
I sailed completely on my own, on a pure vacation. My passport is in my maiden name, so nobody knew. I was just another guest. And I was absolutely blown away. I understood very quickly why the brand has the reputation it does, why they’ve won the awards they’ve won. And I said—much like our ad campaign, “Begin a New Story”—I loved it so much that it was time for me to begin a new story. I had to work for Crystal, and I accepted the opportunity; and it’s fabulous and I love it. God saved the best for last for me. I really feel that way.
In August 2013, my [then] fiancé and I were happy to get away for my birthday on a brand that didn’t know me. When you work for the company, you can never fully disconnect. It was nice that nobody on the ship knew who I was, and so I got to experience the cruise in the true flavor it’s meant to be. There were many “aha” moments, but one was exceptional.
I had booked the cruise online through the website, because I wanted to go through the whole process of what a guest would experience. The next day, I got a call from one of Crystal’s in-house reservation agents. She said she noticed that I didn’t use a travel agent and offered to pass the booking onto an agent if I was using one.
When I told her no, she said she would be my personal assistant. She asked what I needed, and then she said, “When you’re on board will you have any special occasions you’ll be celebrating?”
I said I’ll be celebrating my birthday and asked for a reservation in one of the specialty restaurants that night. When we got on board, the reservation card was in our stateroom.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the main dining restaurant. We weren’t there for even 20 minutes, because we had to go on our excursion. As we were walking out, the head waiter stopped us and said, “I see you’re having a birthday tomorrow.”
I was thinking: He didn’t even know our names; we just boarded yesterday. We didn’t have to give our names when we walked in, because it was open seating. I understand that staffers look at pictures and try to make people feel comfortable, but this head waiter had taken it upon himself to look at who boarded yesterday, search all the pictures until he found us, and then read about us.
He said, “Would you like to have our special birthday breakfast in your stateroom tomorrow?”
We made reservations for an 8:30 a.m. delivery, but he never asked us what we wanted for breakfast. The next morning at exactly 8:30, the door opened, and standing outside with balloons and a card from the captain was the room service waiter. Before he came in, he sang “Happy Birthday” to me.
He set it up on the balcony. We didn’t see anything, didn’t know anything, until it was all done. Then we went out there, and we were both mesmerized.
First of all, I love sushi and Japanese food. There was a whole Japanese breakfast. Then there was steak and eggs; and most importantly, there was a crystal tic-tac-toe dish with twelve squares of mini breakfast appetizers. It was incredible.
It was so beautiful that we didn’t want to eat it; it was just so exquisite to look at. That was why the head waiter hadn’t asked what we wanted, because that’s the special Crystal birthday breakfast. It was such an “aha” moment for me.