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Spencer Frazier remembered as a 'luxury cruise evangelist'

Spencer Frazier remembered as a 'luxury cruise evangelist'

Spencer Frazier, a cruise line sales and marketing dynamo known for his passion, ambition and tenacity, died Dec. 30 in Portland, Oregon. He was 64. Best known, perhaps, for his sales work and drive at Royal Viking Line, Frazier also made his mark at a range of other companies.

As president of Clipper Cruise Line, he tried to shape it into a country club at sea and chartered one of the ships to the European Space Agency. As evp at Kloster Cruise Ltd., he led RVL, Royal Cruise Line and the international marketing efforts of Norwegian Cruise Line. Frazier also headed marketing for Travel Services International, and sales and marketing at Uniworld.

He was closely identified with Royal Viking Line, where he started in the 1970s as a sales consultant then moved up to vp in the San Francisco office and later led the line for a period in its Kloster Cruise days.

'He lived and breathed RVL and had a passion for the guests, the ships, the product and the staff aboard. If you cut him, his blood would probably come out the same red as the sea eagle on the smokestack,' said Mark Conroy, veteran senior cruise executive who also worked in sales at RVL, for a time overlapping with Frazier.

Conroy called Frazier 'probably the most tenacious sales person I have ever met, never giving up on an agency he thought had potential. We used to kid him that many agents would just begin to book us to get him to leave them alone.'

'He was like an evangelist for luxury cruising,' according to Mark Flager, sales manager at WMPH Vacations, who worked for Frazier at both RVL and Clipper.

Flager recalled how Frazier was one of early proponents of highly orchestrated, multi-city road shows that might entail breakfast with travel agents then lunch, tea and dinner with consumers. This busy daily schedule could wage on for 20 cities.

In the mid-1980s INTRAV founder Barney Ebsworth recruited Frazier to lead Clipper Cruise Line in St. Louis, where he worked to elevate the product and beefed up the sales force with other luxury cruise veterans. Following the 1986 Challenger disaster, NASA pulled back. Meanwhile, the European Space Agency was expanding its launches from French Guiana and Frazier chartered a ship to ESA as an accommodations vessel off Kourou.

His return to RVL was via Kloster Cruise in Coral Gables, Florida, which had acquired the brand and Royal Cruise Line, along with owning Norwegian Cruise Line. Frazier as evp oversaw RVL/Royal as well as international marketing for NCL. It was a challenging time for the two upscale brands and Kloster. In the end, Royal was dissolved and the RVL brand name and one ship went to Cunard.

When Joe Vittoria began rolling up leading travel distributors, including many of the top cruise-only agencies, into the publicly traded Travel Services International, Frazier for a time oversaw marketing.

Rick Kaplan's CruiseMasters was one of those agencies. Now heading Premier River Cruises, he remembered Frazier as 'ahead of his time,' and said 'the cruise industry was made better by his efforts.'

Frazier moved to Los Angeles to work as svp marketing and sales for Uniworld River Cruises from 2003 to 2004.

After that, he shifted focus to real estate, including work for Marriott in their time-share division in Boca Raton, Florida.

His wife, Barbara, preceded him in death in 2004. He is survived by a son, Spencer John Frazier.

An obituary in the Orange County Register said a celebration of life is planned in August.

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