arren Titus has retired -- and this
time he means it. The last time Warren retired was in September
1987, but he went back to work in November of that year, becoming
the founding president of Seabourn Cruise Line, a position he held
until becoming chairman of the line in 1994.
When Seabourn was merged with Cunard in 1998, he joined the
executive committee of the new Cunard Line Ltd. and took the role
of chairman of Seabourn and Cunard's guest loyalty programs.
It's hard to overestimate the impact that Warren has had on the
cruise industry and travel agents who sell cruises. His career has
paralleled the history of the cruise industry because, time and
again, he was at the center of action when major directional
changes were taking place.
His involvement with shipping companies began in Hawaii before
World War II, when he was a freight clerk for the Inter-Island
Following the war, he signed on with Theo H. Davies and Co.,
among whose interests was a steamship agency. He worked as a rep
for Cunard and Holland America Line, whose around-the-world
itineraries included stops in Hawaii, and became head of Davies'
steamship department and, ultimately, vice president of the
In 1959, he was recruited by the Orient Line to set up an office
for the company in North America. Shortly after, Orient merged with
P&O Steam Navigations Co., and he stayed on with the new
company, being named president of P&O Lines Inc. (North
America). At that time, the company's fleet of 10 passenger vessels
was the largest in the world.
He eventually was lured away by American President Lines to
manage its passenger ship operations.
It was during his tenure at APL that Titus grabbed hold of the
idea that the passenger ship business, which at that time was
represented by two separate trade groups -- the Transpacific
Conference and Transatlantic Steamship Conference -- should come
together in a single organization to promote the concept of
cruising and to help educate travel agents to market and sell
cruises more effectively.
The idea was not accepted immediately. The traditional role of
these groups was regulatory, and many of the lines couldn't see the
sense of an association that was designed primarily to promote
In fact, Titus had to fight for the creation of the Cruise Lines
International Association -- CLIA -- for 10 years.
In the meantime, he was contacted by a consortium of shipping
lines in Norway and was invited to participate in the formation of
Royal Viking Line. Before Royal Viking had even designed its first
ship, he was made president of their U.S. company.
At RVL in the early '70s, Titus helped create the forerunners of
the modern cruise ship. Until that time, most passenger ships were
built to cross oceans and were quite heavy. RVL commissioned ships
for "cruising" -- the cabins were modular, the ships were lighter,
and the idea was that they would follow a touristic itinerary
rather than haul people from one continent to another.
While building a very different type of cruise line, Warren
continued his efforts to organize the new cruise association.
Eventually, thanks largely to his exhaustive efforts, CLIA was
born in 1975, and 22 of the 28 major shipping lines joined.
Titus became CLIA's first chairman, focusing the new
organization's efforts on educating travel agents on how to sell
the new type of cruising that was emerging.
He was asked to stay on as chairman year after year, and ended
up leading the organization through its first critical five years
He didn't do too badly at his day job, either, and was named
chairman of Royal Viking Lines in 1982, a position he held until
his first retirement in 1987.
Warren Titus is a visionary, a word I don't throw around
lightly. And that self-described "ancient mariner" has always
believed -- and believes -strongly in the value of travel
"With CLIA, I envisioned that our primary function was to train
travel agents, to develop educational programs for them," Warren
told me shortly after his retirement dinner earlier this month in
"The training programs, the education -- I think that's the
contribution to the industry that I am most proud of."
Clearly, both the cruise lines and the agents who sell them
benefited greatly from Titus' efforts. He not only helped define
the modern cruise industry, he had the sense to see it would
succeed only by educating its sales and distribution force: travel
Warren, you will be missed.