Holland America President Orlando Ashford to Depart After Five Years

Holland America Line President Orlando Ashford will leave the premium cruise line at the end of May.

Ashford has served in that role since November 2014 and led a rejuvenation of the brand through an emphasis on enhanced onboard entertainment, live music and culinary experiences. For example, he created Music Walk on the ships, which is a collection of venues featuring live music and performances, in partnership with Billboard, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Rolling Stone and the B.B. King Blues Club.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead the evolution of the Holland America Line brand for more than five years. I can’t say enough about the talent and teamwork both shoreside and on board the ships that has driven our many successes over the years,” Ashford said.

“Today, a global pandemic has impacted our industry in ways that are completely unprecedented However, I believe it is human nature to travel and explore new places and cultures and meet new people. I have no doubt that Holland America Line will thrive again soon, and its guests will be ready when cruise operations resume. I look forward to being one of the first to sail.”

Holland America Line currently has paused operations until the fall, a move that canceled all 2020 Alaska, Europe and Canada/New England cruises.

As the pandemic led to ports denying entry to Holland America’s Zaandam, Ashford wrote an emotional plea for human decency.

At Holland America Line, Ashford oversaw sales and marketing, revenue management, deployment and itinerary planning, public relations, hotel operations and strategy.

“Orlando has made a substantial contribution to Holland America Line during his tenure, bringing a renewed energy to the premium cruise line that was recognized with many awards and accolades,” said Stein Kruse, Group CEO of Holland America Group and Carnival UK. “His unique background as an innovator and global leader in human resources was highly respected in our organization and his dynamism will be greatly missed.”

Prior to joining Holland America Line, Ashford was president of the Talent Business Segment for Mercer, a global consultant in talent, health, retirement and investments. Before that, he served as senior vice president, chief human resources and communications officer of Mercer’s parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies. Ashford also has held other leadership roles earlier in his career with companies such as Coca-Cola, Motorola, Ameritech and Andersen Consulting.

Ashford serves on the board of directors of ITT, Inc., Hershey Entertainment & Resorts Company, Positive Coaching Alliance, Virginia Mason Medical Center and Year Up, a year-long intensive training program for underserved young adults.

Last year, Ashford was selected by Seattle Business Magazine for the 2019 Executive Excellence Award, honoring leaders in Washington state business and community.

Ashford’s book, “Talentism,” examines how technology and human networks can help bridge the skills gap, improve business performance and lead to the betterment of society at large. He has a second book currently in development.

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