Cruise Industry Veteran Karl Muhlberger Appointed Crystal’s Chief Operating Officer
The expanding fleet of Crystal Experiences has new executive leadership as seasoned cruise and luxury hospitality industry executive Karl Muhlberger is appointed the company’s new Chief Operating Officer.
As COO, Muhlberger will report directly to president and CEO, Tom Wolber, and will be based in Crystal’s Miami headquarters. In his new role with the internationally acclaimed company, Muhlberger will oversee facets of Crystal’s expanding fleet including hotel services, entertainment, food and beverage operations, concessions, and technical services for the lines’ existing experiences and those in development.
“I am delighted to welcome Karl to the Crystal Family at a particularly exciting time for our company, as his esteemed career in luxury travel and expertise in launching new ships and programs for global travelers will be great assets to our teams ashore and on board as we navigate new waters,” Wolber said. “His beginnings in the culinary industry helped create a spirit of welcoming hospitality, which is integral to our guests’ experience, while his experience spearheading company and fleet expansions brings important perspective to Crystal’s position in the market.”
A native of Austria, Muhlberger began his career at age 15 as a culinary apprentice in Salzburg and went on to become the first and youngest Austrian chef to receive a Michelin Star and 17 points from the famed Gault & Millau at age 23. He also held prominent chef positions at other Michelin and Gault & Millau-rated restaurants, including the 5-Star Relais & Château Hotel in Belgium and Austria.
From this foundation, he led the culinary departments for Cunard and Seabourn Cruise Line and held executive chef positions aboard Seabourn Cruise and Silversea Cruises. This leadership carried him to Norwegian Cruise Line, first as vice president of food and beverage operations, then to vice president of hotel operations for the company’s 17 vessels. With NCL, he was instrumental in the line’s global expansion into new markets and developing guest experiences; played integral roles with all of the company’s new builds in the U.S. and Chinese markets, as well as the development of NCL’s two private islands.
Muhlberger’s academic studies began in Salzburg, Austria, then continued in the U.S., where he earned a certificate in hospitality management from Cornell University and later, an Executive MBA from Florida International University in Miami.
“Crystal represents the pinnacle of luxury in the cruise industry and to join a company so dedicated to this exceptional standard is an honor,” Muhlberger said. “I am happy to lead these teams as we move into the next chapter for Crystal and welcome the challenge of finding ways to enhance what is already the very best in our business.”