Sea ViewsFrom President and COO, Adam Goldstein

Sea Views Blog with Adam Goldstein

What It Takes To Be On The Path To Success

One of our young, ambitious readers recently wrote and expressed his interest in obtaining a job such as my job at Royal Caribbean (he is a frequent cruiser with us, something I certainly wasn’t when I was in college) or in top management at another large company.  He wanted to know what suggestions I might have for him.  Interestingly, he specifically noted he is involved in nonprofit work, which is near and dear to our hearts.

There certainly is more than one way to the top, judging by the backgrounds of our highest ranking officers.  Richard Fain, our Chairman, was a financial professional by background.  My training was in law.  Michael Bayley, President & CEO of our sister brand Celebrity Cruises, worked his way up from Assistant Purser on Nordic Prince beginning in the early 1980’s.  I should note that all three of the senior officers on my Royal Caribbean International team – Lisa Bauer, Vicki Freed and Lisa Lutoff-Perlo – have strong backgrounds in Sales.

Business articles on management cite cyclical trends influencing whether finance, legal, marketing or human resource backgrounds are in the ascendancy to the top jobs.  This may be relevant to large scale data across industries but it is unlikely to determine the career success of any given individual.

My observations over nearly 25 years at Royal Caribbean tell me that success emanates primarily from straightforward elements of daily life.  Someone who has presence that gets people’s attention, judgment that appears sound, a work ethic that stands out and an ability to digest considerable information and figure out the key point(s) is going to be noticed by senior management.  The ability to write well is important too.

Someone who forms work relationships because they want to, not during a crisis when they have to, is going to receive more assistance from colleagues than will others. Everybody is stressed doing business in the 21st century.  Everyone has more on their plate than they can manage in the normal work hours.  So by necessity each colleague is rationing the assistance they can provide.  So who are they going to assist?  Some of the rations will be granted to the people they want to assist, i.e., the ones with whom they have positive relationships.  None of this is rocket science.

It is not possible to say someone who tries hard to do these things will become a senior officer of Royal Caribbean or any other large company.  Plus there are many more variables than I could mention here.  But doing these things well will increase the odds of success. So will seizing opportunities when they arise.  These opportunities come with risks attached but often risks worth taking.

Many people have come to me over the years with the proverbial alarm clock going off in their heads that tells them now is the time for them to be promoted and wondering why it isn’t obvious to everyone at the company that the time has come.  My advice to them on career advancement has been consistent over the last two decades:  You need to be excellent, you need to patient and you need to be lucky.  And the first two will often produce the third.

Good luck, young man.

34 responses to:
“What It Takes To Be On The Path To Success”

  1. Barbara Ahearn

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,
    I just wanted to comment on your letter to the young man looking for advice. I am now retired from a service related job, having worked for the same company for over 30 years and find your words to be right on target. I can relate to everything you told him. I loved my job and working with people. I am also a huge fan of both Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise lines, which is why I read this letter. I was interested in your perspective from both the management position and as a frequent guest. I will be traveling to Alaska in August on one of your cruisetours and look forward to it immensely.

    Good luck and Godspeed with your endeavors at Royal Caribben.

    Barbara Ahearn

    • Adam

      Thank you for your kind words, Barbara. We appreciate your comment.

  2. Richard Whalen

    Just a few lines to let you know why The Jewel was picked #1 in 2011 is totally understandable. The “Make your guests want to return to this ship is evident from Capt. to the engine room. We just came back from a 4 day cruise and it was perfect as can be, our third on this ship. Booked on Brilliance in Nov., will be third time on that one too.

    Anyway, The Jewel has the most pleasant crew ever, they made you feel their appreciation for choosing Royal and Jewel in particular……..GIVE THEM ALL A RAISE!!!!

    Rick Whalen

    • Adam

      Thank you for your feedback, Richard!

    • Denise Hancock

      Was on the Jewel in December, 2012. I can’t say enough about the staff on that cruise. This was my first time on Royal Caribbean and you have made me a believer. Having always booked your competitor, I will now encourage all my cruise customers to book Royal Caribbean. I am already returning to the Jewel in May. Well done!

      • Adam

        Thank you for your kind words, Denise. We look forward to seeing you this May.

  3. chris burlew

    Congrats on the 2 new ships. Do you know what ship will replace Explorer in Bayonne?

  4. vicki


    • Jeanne Kramer

      Our last cruise April 2, 2012 on the Monarch of the seas, my ankle began to swell after the second nights dinner, Captains night. After that I couldn’t where my pretty shoe for the rest of the cruise.miserable! I never thought it could have been the food but that makes sense. My feet legs and ankles were so swollen, i was assisted with a wheel chair on leaving the ship and at the airports going home. Thanks for enlightening me on this.

      • Adam

        Hi Jeanne– We apologize for your inconvenience and what happened and will pass along your comments to our Food and Beverage team for internal review.

    • Ed

      We also noticed our ankles swelling up a couple days after boarding the ship. The same symptoms have been noticed on all the RCL ships we have been on. After we get back home, it takes a few days before they start going back to normal. I believe that there is so much salt added to the food in an attempt to make it taste good that it causes more problems than it is worth. I asked our doctor about it and he agreed that food on the cruise lines have way too much salt added. We are not on a low-salt diet at home. We just don’t add excess salt to enhance the taste.

      PLEASE tell the food preparation teams to cut back on the salt being added to the food. If some people want extra salt, put salt shakers on the tables. So much salt is just not healthy.

  5. Cheryl Cwiertniewicz

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,
    On January 11, 2012, my family, along with close friends of ours, the Mark family, booked a trip on the Adventurer of the Seas leaving from San Juan on Sunday, February 10, 2013, reservation numbers 470736 and 476148.
    We made arrangements to leave Bradley International Airport and arrive in San Juan for noon Saturday, February 9 to ensure enough time for our 7pm departure on Sunday.
    A vacation of a lifetime thirteen months in the making, and then we learned about the beginnings of Winter Storm Nemo. We were in constant dialogue with our airline carrier, JetBlue. As soon as we learned of the weather alert issued by Jet Blue on Wed, Feb 6, we changed our flights to ~1pm on Sat, Feb 9 out of JFK. With the storm information we had, this was our best option. Weather forecasts changed again, and we changed our flight to ~4pm Sat, Feb 9 out of JFK – we felt the storm would be over, JFK would be open, and worst case there were 4 other flights out of JFK on Sun that could get us to San Juan in time for our cruise departure.
    What we didn’t foresee was Winter Storm Nemo would be an unprecendented blizzard bringing a massive amount of snow, gale-force winds and coastal flooding to CT. President Obama declared a state of emergency for my home state of Connecticut. CT Governor Malloy issued a state-wide travel ban and closed highways. This ban was not lifted until 4pm on Sat, Feb 9.
    Our party of eight had seats on an on-time departure to San Juan from JFK on Sat, Feb 9. However, we were unable to even attempt the drive to the airport because the entire state was in shut down.
    During the course of the day Sat, Feb 9, I spoke to several representatives at Marriott, JetBlue and Royal Caribbean. I was well within my 72 hour cancellation requirement with Marriott for my accommodations in San Juan for Sat evening, facing a ~$438 penalty for the rooms for the two families. A Marriott representative listened to my circumstances and instantly cancelled my reservation and waived all penalties.
    I then called JetBlue. I explained how I was unable to board their on-time departure out of JFK due to the state of emergency. JetBlue could not arrange any other flight that would get me to San Juan in time for the cruise. Due to the circumstances, JetBlue could offer me a refund in the form of JetBlue credit. I thanked the agent, and she asked me to be placed on a hold. Upon returning, the agent stated she felt so bad for my situation, she would refund my entire air purchase, without penalty, in my original form of payment.
    And then I called Royal Caribbean, twice. I spoke with two individuals, Johnny Nicholson and Setlla Darling. I explained my situation to them, as I did to JetBlue and Marriott. I said I wasn’t seeking a refund, but simply a re-booking on the same cruise, whenever possible in the near future. Johnny was happy to accommodate as long as I incurred the ~$3,000 penalty for my family. He further explained that the entire company received the following direction from you:
    • We are closely monitoring the severe winter storm affecting much of the East Coast, which will impact travel in the region.

    • Currently, all Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises ships are scheduled to depart this weekend as scheduled.

    • If guests wish to cancel or change their sailing, penalties will apply.

    • We will be continuing to monitor the weather situation and providing updates as necessary.
    I asked Johnny if he thought what he was instructed by you to do for me was right. Johnny stated he felt it was not but there was nothing he could do about it. I had a very similar conversation with Stella Darling.
    I work for a company that empowers its employees to do the right things for the right reason and to place the customer at the center of everything we do.
    I read through Royal Caribbean’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and found:
    “We place a very high priority as individuals and as a company in conducting our business in compliance with the law and in accordance with the highest standards of business ethics. We will conduct our global operations with honesty, fairness, integrity and trustworthiness.
    When faced with a difficult situation, consider whether you would feel comfortable if the decision you intend to make became public knowledge. ”
    I am focused on fairness and integrity in your company’s Code of Business Conduct and Ethics, and given our circumstance, I felt your employees on your Resolution team, although courteous, compassionate and kind, were not empowered to act with fairness.
    Therefore, I am writing to you, to ask you to act with fairness and integrity. Do you think our families were treated fairly? I understand profitability, policies, and procedures. But I also understand there’s an exception to everything. JetBlue and Marriott exhibited that. Unfortunately, it is my opinion Royal Caribbean did not. I believe a credit for a future cruise for our families, given the circumstances, is fair and a gesture of someone who acts with integrity.
    I have cancelled my “PTO” with my company, I will return to work on Monday and go on with my daily life. My children have stopped crying over the vacation they have looked forward to for 13 months. But I cannot stop thinking about how a corporation can be guided by values and not act upon them. I hope you do.
    Cheryl Cwiertniewicz

  6. George Clarke

    Pardon me, if I gag. We loved your cruise line when we first started cruising, but things got progressively worse as the cruises and years went by. Cost-cutting became quite evident in the whole experience, but was particularly evident in terms of the quality of the food. Your customer relations department is in need of a serious overhaul. I could write a book on our negative experiences over the course of our last 5 cruises with Royal Caribbean, but what is the point? I’ve had enough of the curt responses, the obfuscations and outright rudeness from your customer relations staff. I called to ask for assistance on things such as damaged luggage or items stolen from our stateroom, but your staff treated my legitimate complaints with an attitude I can only describe as disdain. At first, we thought perhaps we had simply suffered a run of bad luck on these cruises. However, I was soon to find out differently. We were not alone. I visited the consumer affairs website and was stunned to find hundreds, if not thousands of complaints very similar to ours and some stories so heart-wrenching, that my blood began to boil. If you are not willing to assist customers when they, through no fault of their own, desperately require it, what good are you. Quite frankly, you must be aware that It has become common knowledge that Royal Caribbean has the worst customer service and the largest number of customer complaints in the cruise ship industry.

    I have a feeling that your cruise line is in dire financial straits. Perhaps you over-extended your budget by building your two super ships (which some call floating tenements), but that’s just a guess. All I do know with any certainty, is that my wife and I will never again cruise with Royal Caribbean.

  7. Jean Haslam

    Dear Mr. Goldstein, We have just returned from a wonderful cruise on Vision of the Seas 10 days from Fort Lauderdale, I would just like to comment on the fact that having cruised with Royal Caribbean 44 times we had the most friendly Captain we have ever had and all the senior officers were extremely friendly, we met so many of them and they always stopped and spoke with us .it certainly made it a wonderful cruise

    Jean Haslam

    • Adam

      We appreciate your input, Jean. Thank you.

  8. janice szypulski

    after seeing the 2 negitive comments about rc. In dec 2012 I had a cruise planned with my sister and her husband but my mother-in-law was put in hospice and given a few days of live. I made the decision to cancel our cruise which was a good thing since my mother-in-law died on weds . I called rc and even though i didnt purchase the insurance they let me cancel and did give me a couple days to rebook which i did and that was the same with the airlines. I thank rc for doing that so we could injoy our cruise at a later date. My sister didnt change her cruise and went on her first cruise. Hopefully we could go together again sometime.

  9. rosita ofiaza dino

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,
    It is nice to hear from you about your insights in “what it takes to be
    on the path to success”. I find it interesting to know that you have such
    an open heart and mind to share inspiration and learnings you had in
    the past.
    I am a cruiser at Legend of the Seas and had such a wonderful sailing
    experiences with your good selves.
    More Power!
    Rosita Dino

    • Adam

      Thank you for your comment, Rosita. We’ll be sure to pass it along.

  10. Nancy M.

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,

    Thank you very much for your article. I’m also looking very much into working for cruise industry. Your advice: “You need to be excellent, you need to be patient and you need to be lucky” is very very right. I know it’s very hard to get into the cruise industry and I while I’m waiting and looking for the opportunities I started my own cruise blog for Russian speaking cruisers. I hope it will be very valuable for my readers and I will try to pass my passion about cruising to them. But I still believe that one day I will work for one of the cruise lines and they will benefit from my experience and passion.

    Thank you for your blog and great articles. If you don’t mind I will publish some of them in my blog and translate them to Russian.

    Nancy Mucher

    • Adam

      Thank you for taking the time to read our blog, Nancy. We appreciate your comment.

  11. Misty Smith

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,
    Just off the Freedom of the Seas Jan. 27- Feb 3 2013 and I have to say one of the most beautiful ships. We have
    ever sailed on. We are newbies to Cruising. this was only our Fourth cruise. Our first was Monarch of the Seas and then we tried Carnival Sensation and Carnival Dream, but had to come back to Royal for Freedom of the Seas and we had the most enjoyable vacation ever!! Jamie the activities Director and Drew the Cruise Director were AWESOME!!! and Steve our lovely bartender in the Casino makes the best BBC’s on the ship. :) We have a son with Cereberal Palsy that we took on both of the Carnival Cruises but with that being said we have realized RCI is so much more Handicap friendly and the whole ship was accessible. We can’t wait until the dates are released for the Quantum so we can take him on a ship that he/we will truely enjoy. thank you for making life a little easier for us while on vacation.

    til we cruise again,
    Misty Smith

    • Adam

      Thank you for your message, Misty. We look forward to seeing you back onboard.

  12. Tom Walker

    Dear Adam, my wife Daisy and I are sailing to Southampton UK on” Independence of the Sea” leaving Ft Lauderdale on 7th April 2013 and arriving on the 20th April. I have recently published a book or memoir of my experiences in Turkey during the 1971 uprising there. its called “Run toward the blazing sun,”A nightmare in Turkey.” Its a story of an incredible chase into the mountains and a final escape from Turkey across the Meric river bridge into Greece. Will I be able to arrange for book signings while on board. Thanks Tom Walker

  13. Sebastian Kingston

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,

    Thank you for answering my question. I have been planning out my future career path and wanted to gain further information from an esteemed person such as yourself. The knowledge that you have passed on to me will help me move forward and ultimately achieve my goals. As you said, patience is a key aspect of getting ahead in a business environment and that I must not expect to be rewarded but work hard at every level. Once again, thank you for spending the time to answer a most pressing question and will always remember the advice you gave me.


    Sebastian Kingston

    • Adam

      Thank you for writing in, Sebastian.

  14. Sheenagh Walker

    Dear Mr Goldstein,

    Firstly, I would like to say how much I enjoy reading your posts and how you actively communicate with Royal fans.

    I have a question regarding the Royal Caribbean Internship Program.

    I have been trying to find information about when the application process will be opened however, I cannot seem to find anything and I am very eager to apply. I really do not want to miss out on applying for such an opportunity.

    I would be extremely grateful for any information regarding this as I would love to have the opportunity to work with Royal Caribbean.

    Kind Regards,

    • Adam

      Hi Sheenagh, you can find information about our summer internship program here:

      • Sheenagh Walker

        Thank you very much! I have submitted my application so hopefully I will be successful, It would be very exciting to work with your team!

        • Adam

          You’re welcome, Sheenagh.

  15. Frank Allebach

    Dear Mr. Goldstein,

    My wife and I just completed our 7th cruise with RCCL, this time a 10 night cruise on the Vision of the Seas returning February 4, 2013. Everything was well with the cruise, however I don’t understand some of your newer rules and restrictions. First when you use your seapass to charge the gratuities the envelopes did not have the tips inside the envelope for the staff as in the past. How do I know the correct staff is receiving the proper amount? Second what is the new procedure in the Viking Lounge between 4PM and 8PM for Diamond members only. I am currently an Emerald member and they said it was closed each evening to us. We have reserved our next cruise already, leaving Baltimore Jan 21, 2014 for another 10 night cruise. According to my account I should have 80 cruise points not 62, one cruise earning a double on the 12 night from Explorer on Feb 14 2010. And the two listed without the days were 7 nights each. This would make me a diamond member now. Can you research this for me?
    Frank Allebach

    • Adam

      Hi Frank– Please call our Crown & Anchor Society desk at (800) 526-9723. Thank you.

  16. Scott

    Mr. Goldstein,
    It seems many of the comments here have strayed away from the intent of your post. As an organizational development and leadership practitioner, seeing a busy executive taking the time to share insights and advice publicly in an effort to help guide and develop young leaders, is something I don’t see nearly enough. In this case it makes me even more delighted to be an avid RCCL cruiser and shareholder. Thank you.

    • Adam

      Thank you, Scott. We are proud to have you as both a shareholder and a cruiser.

  17. Daniel Kohout

    I believe i asked you that same question and never received a response. My lifetime goal is to become captain of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Sir i am pleased to let you know i am graduating high school this year and have gained admission to State University of New York Maritime College and will be majoring in Marine Transportation with a Deck License. I hope to get an internship within Royal Caribbean my junior year and hopefully land a job with you i learned of this post after reading the edition of Maritime Executive about you and remembered i had asked you a similar question. Hopefully i will achieve my life goal of being a captain of a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship and if possible i would very much like to ask Captain William Wright some questions regarding choices to help chart my future course and steer my self in the right direction. I wish you and your family a Happy New Year and also fair winds and following seas.

    - Daniel Kohout

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