Cruise firm wishes Bon Voyage to its managing director
- Credit: Archant
Mike Rodwell, managing director of Ipswich-based Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines retired on Friday after more than 30 years with the business.
Mr Rodwell is retiring after a period of sustained growth at the travel and leisure specialists he joined in 1987.
His first role was as accountant for the company's first cruise ship, The Black Prince, and he held various roles, taking over as managing director in 2004.
Fred. Olsen has its roots in freight shipping and has developed the travel and cruise side of the business substantially over recent years under his leadership.
It is a major employer in Suffolk, and beyond, with an annual turnover approaching £200m, more than 200 employees in Ipswich and 2,000 more as crew on its fleet of ships,
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He said: "I didn't know anything about Fred. Olsen and cruise ships when I joined the company.
"We had already had some cruises out of Harwich, but Ipswich is not a natural place to have a cruise company.
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"We had just one ship, The Black Prince, and the travel agency sold other people's cruises. Now we have four cruise ships and one river ship, the Brabant."
Now, as he moves into retirement, we asked what had given him most pleasure?
"Being able to grow the business and get it into a good position for the future," he said
"We have about 210 staff and we are currently building an extension for Fred. Olsen House. When that is complete next year there will be nearly 300 staff here, and room for more expansion.
"I would like to thank all of the many people whom, perhaps without even realising, have made my long career with Fred. Olsen such an enjoyable one.
"Over the years, I have worked in a number of varied roles at Fred. Olsen and have seen the Cruise Lines enterprise grow from humble beginnings, with only one ship, to the hugely successful operation that it is now.
"I will look back at those 30-plus years with immense pride in all that we have achieved together, and I know that I will miss it."
He added: "After a couple of months I will probably look for some work as a non-executive director.
"I think I have something to offer someone across all sectors, not just the travel and cruising business."
He will also be taking up the opportunity of getting back into the water, reviving his interest in the sport of water polo.
He is being succeeded by Peter Deer, as managing director, stepping up from his role as commercial director.