Earlier this week, Travel Agent reported that SeaDream Yacht Club (www.seadream.com) had appointed Pamela Conover as its new chief executive officer, effective Jan. 2, 2013. Conover, a long-time Carnival Corporation executive, was formerly president and CEO of both Seabourn Cruise Line and Cunard Line.
Agents describe Conover as a hands-on leader with a strong financial and cruise line operational background, but say she also understands trade issues and enjoys interacting with agents. “I adore Pam, and it was a huge loss to the travel agent community when she left Seabourn,” says Ruth Turpin, owner, Cruises Etc., (www.cruisesetc.com), a Virtuoso member in Fort Worth, TX.
“I am thrilled with the prospect of her being back, and I know she will bring new life to SeaDream," Turpin stresses. “She knows how to make things happen.”
Luxury Travel Advisor did a major article on Conover in 2010 during her time at Seabourn; read about her philosophy and leadership approach here at www.luxurytraveladvisor.com/supplier-profiles/at-the-helm-seabourns-pamela-conover
Bob Lepisto will remain with SeaDream as president and concentrate on sales and marketing. Vicky Garcia, executive vice president, sales and marketing, Cruise Planners/American Express (www.cruiseplanners.com), believes Lepisto has done a “great job” but adds that the change will help the brand grow in the yacht area of luxury travel.
Lepisto and others at SeaDream will report to Conover, who will be the prime liaison with Atle Brynestad, SeaDream's chairman and owner. In recent years, Brynestad had become much more involved with the line’s day-to-day operations.
Now he’ll turn that role over to Conover, noting: “I welcome Pam to take my role as the CEO of SeaDream, so I can spend more time towards the long term planning for SeaDream and also more time to my other businesses.”
One plus? Conover and Brynestad worked together successfully in the past, which likely bodes well for SeaDream, agents say. Conover will be based in SeaDream’s Miami office and she will have worldwide responsibility for SeaDream.
Highly knowledgeable about the luxury cruise market, Conover ran Seabourn during the period when it was expanding rapidly with the introduction of new Odyssey-class ships. She also led Cunard Line during the introduction of the Queen Mary 2, a major step that helped revitalize that line.
Conover also previously served with parent Carnival Corporation in several corporate posts; she has a strong financial background.
Given her background, Conover definitely understands the luxury marketplace and what's needed to satisfy and retain luxury clients, say agents. They're excited she’s bringing those leadership skills and creative energy to a mega-yacht line.
SeaDream operates two 56-stateroom vessels, SeaDream I and SeaDream II. They’re more yachts than cruise ships. The brand focus is to create a chic, stylish, informal cruising environment – akin to what guests would have on a private yacht.
The line's exotic itineraries include the Caribbean, Costa Rica, the Amazon, the Mediterranean and Black Sea and Asia.
Sally Goldwasser, co-owner, Unique Travel of Palm Beach, FL, (www.uniquetrav.com), a Virtuoso agency, says: “I can only see it as a big plus for SeaDream as Pam is one of the most capable people in the industry." She added, "I am sure Bob will make the most of this opportunity.”
Cruise Planners’ Garcia believes Conover will be a wonderful addition to SeaDream with her experience in the luxury market. “She’s lived it, and, honestly, has a great disposition of approachability in the trade that should help SeaDream get the exposure it so deserves,”Gracia says. “It’s a great product, [one] that needs more exposure, and I think Pam can help it get there.”
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