He was the founder, chairman, and CEO of American Cruise Lines, Inc., Pearl Seas Cruises, Chesapeake Shipbuilding, and several affiliated companies. Engaged in the maritime industry since 1973, he pioneered the small ship cruise industry in the United States with his founding of American Cruise Lines, now the largest cruise company in the country.
He was a recognized expert on cruise ship regulations in the United States and held the unlimited United States Coast Guard Master’s License and a First Class Pilot’s License. He was proud of his roots in shipbuilding and was known for building the cruise ships that his companies operated. He would often be found “hanging steel” at Chesapeake Shipbuilding, the shipyard in Salisbury, Maryland that he established. His passion for the sea extended beyond his professional pursuits.
An avid sailor, he won national and international events, including the Newport Bermuda Race, the Queen’s Cup, and the National Championship in the Atlantic Class on a series of sailboats named Cannonball. He worked to make sailing and the maritime industry more accessible to all, serving as chairman of Operation Sail 2000 and as a trustee of Mystic Seaport since 1989, in addition to his support of other maritime museums and non-profits. He was also a former trustee of the New York Yacht Club and most recently the owner of the 12 Metre yacht Freedom (US-30) which he restored and skippered.
An aviator and commercial pilot early in life, he returned to this favorite pastime in his later years. He regularly flew modified ex-military aircraft and would participate in shows and demonstrations around the country.
Born August 4, 1947, in Hackensack, New Jersey, he was the son of Charles Bennett Robertson and Mary Spangler Robertson. Carol Ann Robertson, his wife of 35 years, survives him.
He is also survived by three sons, Charles and wife Kristen; Clark and fiancée Parinaz; and Carter; a granddaughter, Claiborne; and two sisters, Jean Anne Robertson and Lois Gorman.
A memorial service will be held at The First Church of Christ in Saybrook on Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 11 a.m., with a reception to follow at Saybrook Point Inn. In lieu of flowers, please consider a contribution to MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital.