Ponant, the small-ship, French-owned cruise line with a focus on luxury expedition cruising, has named Edie Rodriguez, former Crystal Cruises president and CEO, as its new Americas brand chairman and corporate special advisor.
Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, CEO, Ponant, and Navin Sawhney, CEO of Ponant Americas, jointly made the announcement. With more than 30 years in the cruise industry, Rodriguez will be responsible for increasing Ponant’s brand awareness in the Americas, especially with professional networks including travel agencies, media, influencers and prospective passengers. She also will act as a corporate advisor for the company.
“For the last several years now, Ponant has been building a solid strategy for the American market and has the means to achieve its objectives,” said Sawhney, who has responsibility for company P&L, strategy definition and implementation. “Given our strong ambitions and the real potential of this market, I am happy to see our team strengthened by the arrival of Edie Rodriguez.”
“We’re going to work very much together as a team,” Rodriguez said of her new working relationship with Sawhney. “He’ll be responsible for the day to day, and I will really be responsible for creating brand awareness in the Americas the way they enjoy in France.”
“They already have five gorgeous ships, they are building four new gorgeous ships and I am really delighted to make them as well known in the Americas as they are in France," said Rodriguez, who is already working for the line. She's based in South Florida but will travel extensively.
Sauvée said “with two great seasoned cruise industry experts like Navin and Edie in our team, I’m convinced that Ponant in the USA will achieve its full capability in terms of market share.” The press release made it clear that Ponant’s ownership wants the small-ship luxury brand to not only be a French luxury expedition cruise line, but also better known as a world leader in luxury expeditions and a stellar cultural international cruise line with that special French touch.
Rodriguez, talking to Travel Agent by phone, was “ecstatic” to have joined the Ponant team: “First of all, I believe they are the world’s leading expedition cruise line and luxury is my favorite space, obviously. I also believe they have the have the sexiest expedition ships at sea if not ‘the’ sexiest ships at sea.”
For the past decade, she's watched Ponant's global expansion and “I have always thought that their ships are perfectly appointed to deliver an unmatched cruise experience. I am proud to help the Ponant brand achieve recognition and realize its ambitions for growth in USA and the Americas at the level it deserves.”
She praised the passion of Sauvee and said that, coupled with strength in the global luxury market, will ensure the brand’s success moving forward. She also pointed out that Ponant is owned by the Artemis Group, which she characterizes as ‘the crème de la crème’ of luxury with such brands as Gucci and Brioni. “That’s a fantastic opportunity to explore synergies,” she said.
She comes to her new role not only from a global luxury cruise perspective but also as a luxury consumer herself. She believes Ponant delivers the yachting experience like no other: “They’re the Ferrari or Lamborghini at sea.”
What to expect? “A big part of gaining brand recognition is reaching out to the travel agency community in a different way,” she said, “so certainly one of my key initiatives will be to reach out to the travel agency community and make sure that they understand what this brand experience is all about and that they do sell it.”
Concurrently with that, she says important to "make sure that the parent company stays true to its French roots, but makes it an international experience onboard that Americans will embrace.”