Adam Goldstein Reflects on His Journey to Becoming Royal Caribbean’s President & CEO

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From the “things that were not my idea” category, my ever inventive colleagues have asked me to reminisce about my childhood.  I don’t know what secret they have been hoping I would reveal. For the record, here is a summary:

Even though I am a lifelong passionate Philadelphian, the truth is I was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the last day of the 1950’s.  So my first contribution to my family was a last minute tax deduction for 1959.  By mid-1960 we returned to my father’s roots in Philly.  My mother’s family comes from upstate New York.  My wife Cheryl and I recently visited the farm/inn across the Hudson River from Hudson, NY where my mother’s father grew up.  So, while my grandfather became an eminent OB/GYN in Schenectady, (Dr. Louis P. Tischler at Ellis Hospital), I do apparently have hospitality in my genes.  Not to mention that my mother was a rare female graduate of the Cornell Hotel School back in the day.

Growing up was mostly about sports, my own and Philadelphia’s sports teams.  I did well in school but put most of my energy into tennis, baseball, basketball, football and running.  I went to Camp Kennebec for seven summers in Maine, hence my abiding attraction to that state.  I graduated from Conestoga Sr. High in 1977 and will take this opportunity to acknowledge my track and cross country coach Peter Ramsay who remains a good friend today.  Although I was not a great runner, I was on a great high school track team that could compete with any of the teams I read about in Miami these days.

My main aspiration was to attend Princeton following in my father’s footsteps.  When I got there it was even better than I hoped it would be, notwithstanding the back problem that short circuited my rowing career and undermined five of my eight semesters.  After college I went on to law school, not so much because I wanted to be a lawyer but more because I couldn’t trust my back to hold up to the demands of a paying job.  Fortunately by the time I finished law school I was more confident in my health and began my career as a lawyer in New York.  One thing led to another and after I attended the European business school (INSEAD) and received my MBA in 1988, I came to Miami to work for Royal Caribbean.

It’s hard to explain where my passion for international travel and experiences originates.  My father did a fair amount of international work during his legal career and my parents did several exotic holiday trips.  As for me, except for several occasions where I was canoeing on a river with one side in the U.S. and the other side in Canada, I only left the U.S. once before I was 23, on a family holiday in Jamaica.  Also, I do not recall a single conversation about cruising within my family during my entire childhood, even though my father was providing legal services to Royal Caribbean from its inception. We personified the thinking that cruising was only for inactive people.  Maybe the jogging track on Oasis-class is my way of apologizing for not cruising until I was 27 (on Emerald Seas, for the record).  In any event, I made up for lost time in both global travel and cruising.  Since 1984, I have averaged crossing an international border nearly once every ten days.

So that’s the short version.  If this gives rise to any memories you would like to share, feel free to post. Especially if you were delivered by Dr. Tischler.

  • Chris Butler

    Will you consider offering alcohol cards to US Cruises like you do to Europe cruise lines? Celebrity offers a beer/alcohol card that we used and loved it. I would pay that up front and we ended up not drinking as much as we paid for the card. Win win situation for all. I am cruising in May- with 3 cabins booked.
    Your response is greatly appreciated. This will be our first cruise on Royal carrbbean- however our 6 th cruise overall.
    We have sailed carnival, celebrity, norweign and were repeat customers on carnival and celebrity.

    Thank you for your time
    Steven Butler

    • Adam

      Hello Chris, at this time we have no plans to add an alcoholic beverage package to our US cruises, however we will send your suggestion to the correct contact. Thank you and we hope you have a great time onboard this May. See you soon.

  • jackie

    Adam, Love the hat & tie. Makes you look as if you were getting ready to be a businessman years ago. Keep up the terrific job that you are doing for RCI’s President & CEO.

    • Adam

      Thank you for your warm comment, Jackie.

  • Donna Powell

    Greetings from Alaska,

    Having spent the last 17 years working in the southeast Alaska tourism industry, specifically the last 8 have been working directly with RCCL, you can imagine my delight upon learning you grew up in the Philadelphia area. Berwyn is just a stone’s throw away from Springfield, where I grew up. I too, never considered the travel industry as an employment option. Today, I couldn’t think of a better industry ladder to climb! Who, would you say, has been your biggest inspiration to become the leader you are today?

    Kudos on a job well done.

    Best regards,
    Donna Powell
    Juneau, Alaska

    • Adam

      Hi Donna. Thanks for your question. My father did such a good job of being a Philadelphia lawyer that I wanted to do something different and become the client instead. I was always interested in general management. There isn’t one inspirational leader who comes to mind from the business world. I took most of my leadership inspiration from the sports world. This included certain teammates I had especially when I was rowing for Princeton. It also includes professional athletes such as Bobby Clarke of the Flyers.

  • Stuart Falk

    Thanks, Adam, for posting this all too brief, but meaningful, reminiscence.

    I well remember when we first met: you were attending your very first Seatrade Miami Cruise Conference just after joining Royal Caribbean and I was Marketing Director of the Vlasov Group / V. Ships. You sat toward the front of every session taking voluminous notes and stood out for your earnest seriousness. As you will recall that led to our arranging a lunch together with our respective bosses, though I regretted it did not lead to future joint business projects. I was also impressed with your having attended INSEAD, with which I had a connection while working in Paris for the International Chamber of Commerce. We both had also studied law and I was excited to meet a fellow American with your skills, sound liberal arts background and international sensitivity enter to cruise business.

    While I’m recently retired, I’m still involved with the cruise business, albeit more as a guest. Indeed I’m about to embark on November 29 for a 24 night cruise on the Azamara Journey embarking in Mumbai on November 29 and disembarking in Singapore on December 23. Larry Pimemtel, whom I first met when he was President of San Francisco based Seabourn, is doing an impressive job in repositioning Azamara Club Cruises and continuing to refine the product, just as you are at Royal Caribbean International.

    Hopefully we’ll be able to catch up in person one day soon. In the meantime, though, it great to keep up with you through your blog.



    • Adam

      Thanks Stuart. I’m glad to see you’re still right in the thick of the industry even though you’re retired. I have appreciated seeing you from time to time over the years and look forward to seeing you again soon.

  • Tyler Young

    Hello Adam,

    I am currently a freshman in college majoring in Event Management & Minoring in Marketing. After completing my Bachelor’s degree I will continue to get my MBA. I would like to become the CEO of a large company such as Royal Caribbean or be in a high management corporate position. I am wondering if you have any suggestions as to how to attain those positions and/or how I can get experience and internships with your company. I do live in Florida and cruise RCL often so it is easy for me to get to the Miami headquarters.

    I have been involved in the community for many years and am currently the fundraising director of a non-profit theatre. I am a very ambitious and hardworking person and look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks in Advance,


  • Pat Gibbons

    My husband and I love cruising and have sailed 15 plus times on RCCL. I’ve lost count. Of late I’ve noticed that more and more itineraries arei port almost every day. We like the days at sea and usually choose our cruise accordingly. It’s getting very hard to find a cruise we want to take.

    Also, have you considered having a cruise ship sail back and forth across the Atlantic so people could go to Europe and back home again without flying. The airlines are making it very clear they are not interested in making flying an enjoyable experience. With so many people traveling for pleasure these days I would think there would be a niche for an ocean cruise shuttle.


    • Adam

      We appreciate your comment, Pat. Thank you for your suggestions.

  • Nancy Elliott-Greenwood

    Hi Adam, I would like to have you comment/congratulate the rescue crew of Independance of the Seas who made an amazing rescue of three local persons who capsized their boat off Puerto Rico this week. My husband and I had an eye witness view of the incident from our stateroom window. Royal’s staff are amazing!! Watching the rescue done so expertly made us feel so safe on this cruiseline!!

  • Carla Bruckner

    I just completed a cruise from Ft Lauderdale to Cozumel on RCL. My friend and I had a fabulous time during the cruise, enjoying the gym, shows, pool and food. A sour ending came when we were disembarking. We were shuttled to various locations on the ship and then all herded to the same stairway. It was hot and crowded and moved at a crawl. It took over one and a half hours to exit the ship. The few crew members that were present tried to blame U.S. Customs, saying there were only three agents available to process all the passengers. Of course when we finally arrived at Customs, there were seven agents, which seemed to be the full complement.
    This process left a very bad final impression on what was otherwise a pleasant and relaxing trip. I have only been on two other cruises, but have never encountered this situation. It certainly will make me think twice before cruising with RCL again.
    Any insight you can provide me with would be greatly appreciated.

  • Chris Jonese

    I just want to say we went on a cruise last year and it was great. We got the owners suite and it was just amazing. So my finance’ always wanted to be married by sea so we saw that you are offering that and been trying to book the royal treatment package for 4 months and been ignored, pushed off and no help at all. We spent over 16k on the last cruise and now we are rethinking that the service was a fluke. It is really a shame we loved the room and the food..

    Anything you can do to help would be great..