Virtuoso steps up cruise focus with key new recruit

Symposium 2022 to be held aboard Silver Dawn

Virtuoso is bolstering its focus on the cruise market, announcing the recruitment of seasoned luxury cruise specialist Melissa Araya, and revealing that next year’s annual Symposium will be held aboard Silversea Cruises’ new ship, Silver Dawn, in March 2022.

The two big cruise announcements come in the lead up to next month’s Virtuoso on Tour Cruise roadshow in Australia, which will be held in Melbourne (7 December), Sydney (8 December) and Brisbane (9 December).

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Virtuoso said the appointment of Araya, along with that of Micheal Goldenberg as Director – Customer Relationship Management, reflects a commitment to focus on “delivering deeper engagement with its travel agency members and travel advisors, preferred partners and clients”.

Melissa Araya returns to Virtuoso, where she previously served in a sales capacity. She possesses extensive experience in the cruise, travel and financial industries, including time with Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

In her new role, Araya will lead Virtuoso’s implementation of the annual sales strategy and budgets for its cruise department, overseeing member production and ensuring annual goals are achieved. Duties will include negotiation of agreements around member commissions, conducting ongoing reviews of cruise revenue forecasts, and collaborating with regional general managers to activate global partnerships.

While at Crystal, where she was director of Strategic Partnerships (national and key accounts) until her promotion to Vice President of Sales and Marketing for international, Araya managed the cruise line’s relationship with Virtuoso, and she continues to be passionate about the network and its members. She began her career at American Express, where she spent 15 years in executive roles in New York and Mexico City. A large part of her success has been in building and maintaining strong and enduring relationships, a key part of Virtuoso’s DNA.

Michael Goldenberg joins Virtuoso with a bold entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of experience in customer relationship management. In his new position, he will further develop targeted marketing strategies and analytics that foster long-term, profitable relationships with existing Virtuoso clients and prospects, creating deeper engagement and a higher value of return for the network’s members and partners.

Before joining Virtuoso, Goldenberg spent more than a decade with Cendyn in senior leadership roles in the US
and abroad. Prior to Cendyn, he co-founded Statability, a web-based reporting and analytics company with products used by more than 5,000 hotels, restaurants, hospitals and car rental outlets across 15 countries.

Araya and Goldenberg will both work remotely from their home offices in Naples, Florida and Boca Raton, Florida, respectively. Araya will report to Beth Butzlaff, Vice President, Cruise, while Goldenberg reports to Helen McCabe-Young, SVP of Marketing.

Their recruitment represents the latest in a string of strategic hires at Virtuoso. Earlier this year, the company named new global general managers in Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Europe-Middle East-Africa, to expand the network’s global footprint and elevate brand awareness with affluent travellers.

In September, Virtuoso recruited Úna O’Leary as General Manager, Canada as the network looks to expand its presence in that country. O’Leary was most recently senior director of Marketing & Strategic Partnerships, North America for CWT, a position she held for over five years. Prior to her stint at CWT, O’Leary held senior-level positions at Ensemble Travel Group, CIBC Insurance and American Express.

Virtuoso also appointed Javier Arredondo as General Manager, Latin American and the Caribbean (effective 15 June 2022) and Karen Joyce as General Manager, Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), effective 1 July 2022. Arredondo was previously CEO of the company he founded, Travesias Media, for 20 years. Joyce joined Virtuoso from the Helloworld Travel Group where she was most recently General Manager of AOT/ATS Pacific New Zealand. Prior to that role Joyce was GM of luxury tour operator Austravel.

O’Leary, Arredondo and Joyce all report to Virtuoso’s Global Operations Manager, Michael Londregan.

Melissa Araya, Senior Director, Cruise
Michael Goldenberg, Director, Customer Relationship Management
Úna O’Leary, General Manager, Canada
Javier Arredondo, General Manager, Latin America and Caribbean
Karen Joyce, General Manager, Europe, Middle East & Africa

Recruitment drive

Virtuoso is also on a recruitment drive, primarily in the United States, with over a dozen open positions in Fort Worth, Seattle and Los Angeles, as well as one in China.

In Texas, where the company is headquartered in Fort Worth, roles include Operations Specialist, CRM; Member Programs Administrator; Manager, New Member Engagement; Analyst, Marketing & CRM Analytics; Senior Meetings & Events Planner; Coordinator, Member Relations; Business Intelligence Intern; and Account Director, Member Relations (South Central).

Positions vacant in Seattle include Manager, Digital Content Marketing; Senior Director, Product Management – B2B Digital Experience; Business Intelligence Intern; Senior Software Engineer; and an Infrastructure Engineer.

In Los Angeles, Virtuoso is recruiting for an Account Director, Member Relations (West), while a Shanghai-based role for a Marketing Manager, Asia is available in China.

All the details at

Symposium 2022

In the meanwhile, Virtuoso CEO Michael Upchurch has also revealed that Symposium 2022 will be hosted aboard Silver Dawn, in what is likely to be a shake-down cruise in the Mediterranean.

Silver Dawn – Silversea Cruise’s 10th luxury vessel – will be a sister-ship to Silver Muse and Silver Moon, the latter of which entered service a few months ago.

Silver Dawn was floated out in Ancona, Italy in January 2021 | Credit: Silversea Cruises

Speaking from his suite in the recently opened uber-luxe Chavel Blanc Paris after this year’s Symposium in Vienna, Upchurch said the network had now finalised plans with Silversea Cruises for next year.

“We will be the first passengers to sail on Silversea’s new Silver Dawn,” Upchurch said excitedly, adding “We will have the whole ship to ourselves.”

The specific date and itinerary for Symposium 2022 are yet to be set in stone, “but it will be in the second half of March, so mark your calendars now,” he said.

According to Silversea’s website, Silver Dawn‘s first sailing is scheduled from Lisbon to Barcelona on 1 April.

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