Industry publication Cruise Week has profiled the leaders of six major cruise lines, each of whom is a key force in shaping the industry. The profiles were created based on the observations of veteran reporters. This is the 4th in the series.
Holland America president & CEO Stein Kruse is the rare cruise executive who has actually worked on ships – early in his working life he toiled for Norwegian American Line.
The felicitously named Kruse attended Purdue and Harvard Business School and has a varied background in the industry, which could be why, as one reporter notes, “Stein has loyalty and respect for industry traditions, he is quite well informed — knows what everybody is doing.”
Under his leadership, Holland America has stuck to its core values of mid-sized ships and well thought-out itineraries. Reporters note Kruse understands the Holland America customer very, very well. “They don’t want big ships, they want the itineraries,” notes one reporter. “Kruse respects that, so, by far, Holland now has the broadest itineraries of any (major) brand.”
“Thank goodness Stein Kruse, a traditional cruise executive, maintains the mid-size ships at Holland America,” sums up one journalist. “Those 55,800-gross-ton ships are a disappearing breed but one that HAL clients love. The line has long been voted ‘Best Overall Cruise Value’ by the World Ocean & Cruise Liner Society, and has maintained that ranking even after Kruse took over from long-time head Kirk Lanterman, who coveted that title.”
Kruse has done a lot for the Holland America product’”most notably the Signature of Excellence program — but just as importantly, his background should help drive international growth, one of the industry’s biggest trends. “He definitely understands those markets in Europe that they’re going after more and more,” points out one reporter.