The travel industry this week is remembering A. Kirk Lanterman, the former Holland America Line Chairman and CEO, who passed away last week at the age of 87 surrounded by family in his Seattle home.
During his career, Lanterman became an industry icon for helping to transition Holland America Line from a barely profitable company with three ships into the premium cruise company it’s known as today, with a 15-vessel fleet.
He began his career in the travel industry in 1970 as vice president of finance for Westours Inc., and was later promoted to executive vice president.
Westours was purchased by Holland America Line in 1973, and, when it consolidated its operations in Seattle 10 years later, Lanterman was named president of the combined company. He managed to turn around the failing brand into a profitable one.
In 1989, Lanterman became CEO of Holland America Line-Westours shortly after the company was acquired by Carnival Corp. In 1997, he was named chairman and CEO. He retired from the company in 2004. Lanterman also served as a director of Carnival Corp. & plc from 1992 to 2007.
“Kirk was an outstanding leader who turned Holland America Line into one of the most successful and innovative cruise companies in the world. Under his strong leadership, the brand exceeded the expectations of employees, guests, travel advisors and shareholders. His contributions have truly been significant and he will be greatly missed,” said Micky Arison, chairman of Carnival Corp. & plc.
Lanterman served two terms as chairman of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and served president of the Alaska Visitors Association. He was a lifetime trustee and past vice-chairman and treasurer for the Institute of Certified Travel Agents, and also served as vice-chairman of International Council of Cruise Lines. He was voted Travel Executive of the Year twice and chosen the Outstanding Travel Supplier of the year by ASTA.
“Kirk was not only a longtime partner of TRAVELSAVERS but became a dear friend and will be sorely missed. He was instrumental in helping grow the cruise industry into what it's become today, in particular with the travel trade,” said Rick Mazza, founder, president and CEO of American Marketing Group (AMG). “Kirk was a big advocate of the travel agency community. The TRAVELSAVERS family sends its deepest condolences to Kirk's wife and family.”
Annie Scrivanich, senior vice president of Cruise Specialists, first met Kirk in 1971 when she was hired as summer staff at Westours. She said: “What I admire most about Kirk Lanterman was his respect and appreciation of the shipboard staff. He never lost sight of the importance of their interaction with our mutual guests. The Indonesian staff under his direction is what set Holland America apart. He understood the importance of attention to detail and personal service. He created a tremendous brand which we have been proud to be affiliated with for years.”
The North Dakota native and University of Washington alum contributed millions to his alma mater, the University of North Dakota, and individual scholarships for those in need. He also funded a center for research and investment analysis in his home state at the University of North Dakota, the A. Kirk Lanterman Financial Center.