'Inspiring' advocate mourned

Rama Rebbapragada who woke Asian region to cruising passes away

By Cherie Rowlands |

The cruise industry is mourning the death of Rama Rebbapragada, Asia Cruise Association (ACA) founding chairman and Royal Caribbean Cruises associate vice president in international consumer outreach and business development, who passed away on 26 July after a long illness.

A keen cruise advocate, Rebbapragada was instrumental in forming the ACA serving as chair from January 2009 to June 2012 and dedicated to leading the promotion and growth of the industry in Asia.

Alongside this role, Rebbapragada was Royal Caribbean Cruises associate vice president after an earlier position in the organisation as regional vice president international, where he had been responsible for business development across Asia, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and Africa. He had worked with the company since 1983.

CEO and president of Royal Caribbean International Adam Goldstein said in a statement: “I am grateful to Rama for his selfless service to our company and industry. No-one took the simple message 'sell, sell, sell’ more personally or applied it more broadly across the globe or did so with more grace and professionalism. It was fitting that Rama served as the first chair of the ACA. He made a particular mark in waking the world's most populous region up to cruising.”

During his time with the ACA, Rebbapragada championed collaborating as an industry with other cruise lines on issues such as building greater consumer and trade awareness for cruising through travel agent training and working with government agencies to develop a cruise-friendly environment in Asia.

Recently appointed by Rebbapragada, new ACA general manager Kevin Leong said: “I had known Rama when he was first sent to Singapore to start the Royal Caribbean Asia office. His dynamism was infectious and when he started up the ACA, I knew that Asia would become the next big cruise region sooner than later. We mourn his passing but we will continue his legacy and turn his dreams into reality.”

Trey Hickey, Princess Cruises and Cunard Line vice president for international sales and marketing had been mentored by Rebbapragada from his first step into the industry. He said: “Rama touched the lives of so many across the world; he kindly brought me into the industry 15 years ago and has served as my mentor ever since. Rama will continue to be an inspiration to all of us and will be missed.”

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