Windstar Cruises has recruited AmaWaterways’ Janet Bava as the small ship cruise operator’s new Chief Commercial Officer, effective 24 July 2023. Current CCO, Betsy O’Rourke, and the CCO of Windstar’s parent company, Xanterra Travel Collection, will move to a consultancy capacity with Xanterra and its ownership, The Anschutz Corporation. She will also engage in outside Board opportunities.
Christopher Prelog, President of Windstar said: “This is a very comforting and energising evolution for all of us at Windstar Cruises. We couldn’t be happier for Betsy and her success, and to still have access to her wisdom and counsel, while at the same time enthusiastically welcoming cruise industry veteran Janet Bava onboard, who previously worked with Betsy at Royal Caribbean.”
Bava will be responsible for driving strategic growth initiatives, leading marketing, sales, reservations, and deployment teams to further elevate the company’s position in the global market.
“I am passionate to return to small ship, luxury cruising, a category that has experienced tremendous growth in demand in the last few years,” Bava said.
“As the new Chief Commercial Officer at Windstar, I am eager to build upon the exceptional work done by Betsy and further elevate the Windstar experience under Chris Prelog’s leadership. Magnify that with the Xanterra Travel Collection and the brand will continue to provide unparalleled experiences to our guests while driving innovation and growth in this exciting sector of the cruise industry,” she remarked.
Bava’s industry career included her recent role as Chief Marketing Officer for AmaWaterways in California, where she was based for nearly five years. She was Vice President, Marketing (Americas) from 2016 to 2018 with Silversea Cruises Ltd. in Miami for just over two years. She worked with the CMO on a Global Marketing restructuring and the successful launch of the new brand campaign to reposition Silversea as a global leader in luxury small-ship ocean and expedition cruising. Bava also was an integral part of the launch of the cruise line’s flagship Silver Muse.
From 2014 to 2016 she was the Director CRM & Customer Engagement at NBCUniversal, Inc – Universal Parks & Resort in Orlando.
O’Rourke had been the Chief Commercial Officer across all brands for Xanterra Travel Collection, Windstar’s parent company, since 2012 and picked up oversight of the commercial functions of Windstar in early 2020. O’Rourke led a reimagined marketing, sales, revenue management, and reservations team while navigating the global pandemic and relaunching half the fleet following the $250 million stretching and rebuild of the Star Class yachts.
Before Xanterra, O’Rourke was SVP of Marketing at Royal Caribbean International where she promoted Bava, who was part of her team, to Manager, Direct Marketing & Customer Experience Communications. O’Rourke’s career also included leading marketing and communications teams at Wyndham Worldwide, Choice Hotels and the US Travel Association.
Reflecting on the decision to join Windstar, Bava acknowledged the remarkable foundation built by O’Rourke in shaping the company’s brand identity and driving its commercial success. Bava says she eagerly anticipates the opportunity to build upon this strong framework and is looking forward to leveraging the collective expertise of the entire Windstar team under the direction of Prelog.
“I have been very fortunate to work with great brands, companies, and people and worked closely with Janet Bava during our time at Royal Caribbean International, and I have witnessed firsthand her exceptional leadership and strategic vision. I am confident that she is the ideal choice to drive Windstar’s commercial success and help guide the cruise line to new heights,” said O’Rourke.