June 18, 2001
Normally, cruise line executive shuffles (which, come to think of it, have been extraordinarily common of late) aren’t fodder for most passengers aside from those who consider themselves serious investors. That’s why we didn’t make much noise, for instance, over the announcement that Albert Peter would be Silversea’s new CEO or even the departure of Frank Del Rio, the last of Renaissance’s old guard, leaving new CEO Manfred Ursprunger, who has a Celebrity Cruises pedigree, running the show. But this one’s different: Joe Watters, president of Crystal Cruises, is a rare cruise executive who’s known -- and beloved -- by passengers as well as by industry types. Crystal has announced that Watters is stepping down, to be replaced by Gregg Michel, long-time associate, who is currently the line’s senior vice president, finance and administration. Michel will take the helm on July 1. In homage to Watters’ obvious popularity amongst devoted Crystal Cruise passengers, he will, however, continue his affiliation with the company throughout the rest of 2001. First assignment: Watters and his wife Virginia will host Crystal’s annual “President's Cruise,'' on Crystal Symphony this August in Europe.