John Richards, former president of Starbucks in North America, has taken the helm of Blue World Voyages, coming on-board as chief executive.
The announcement was issued earlier by Gene Meehan, chairman and founder of Blue World Voyages.
Effective immediately, Richards will be working closely with Meehan and the development team to introduce a new, distinctive cruise industry niche: the first cruise line fully dedicated to sports, wellness, and today’s active lifestyle consumers.
Richards, is an accomplished senior executive with exceptional experience building high-end consumer brands, including hospitality, travel, cruise and fitness.
As chief marketing officer for Royal Viking Line in the early years of cruising, he helped execute the resurgence and successful turnaround of this global luxury cruise brand, partially by engaging a younger audience and executing a unique loyalty program to drive sales.
“We are intentionally trying to break some of the rules of traditional cruising, and for that reason, we have been looking for a chief executive who will help us see and implement things differently.
“John’s track-record for growing companies into category leaders makes him the ideal person to lead Blue World Voyages as we enter the global marketplace,” said Meehan.
“We are confident that with John on-board, we will achieve our goal of expanding to a three-ship operation within five years and in doing so create a new specialty market for active lifestyle cruising.”
With the first 350-passenger, five star ship scheduled to launch in 2018, Meehan plans to have a second and third ship in the water by 2022.
Consistent with the Blue World Voyages concept, the fleet will roam the world, with the company evaluating ports of call based on the availability of outdoor activities such as cycling, hiking, golf and watersports, access to areas conducive to yoga and meditation, and cultural and learning opportunities.
Richards, who is best known for orchestrating the retail growth of Starbucks - taking that emerging start-up from 500 outlets to a national chain of 3,000 stores and growing revenues from $400 million to $2.5 billion in three years - also experienced luxury brand leadership for Four Seasons Hotels.
During his ten-year tenure, he helped expand the company from eight hotels in three countries to 42 hotels in 22 countries.
“People have figured out that they need to take ownership of their health,” said Richards.
“The timing is right for quality hospitality groups to recognize and address this fact.
“Blue World Voyages is setting the precedent in the cruise industry.
“They are doing something completely different, and I am excited to be part of this new venture.”