Arnold Donald, CEO and president of Carnival Corp., the parent company to several cruise lines, stepped down Monday, after helming the company for nearly a decade.
Donald told USA TODAY the decision came as part of an ongoing planning and leadership development process at the company.
“I’ve been in the role for nine years,” he said. “And I’m also, you know, getting to an age where it makes sense to have the next generation step in, and so that’s how we got there.”
Carnival Corp. announced in April that Donald would transition to vice chair and a member of the company’s board of directors after his tenure as CEO and president was completed.
Donald, who started in the role in 2013 and led Carnival through the COVID-19 pandemic, will be succeeded by Josh Weinstein, who previously served the company as its chief operations officer.
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In a statement shared with USA TODAY, Weinstein said that he feels privileged to have been given the opportunity to take on the role, adding that succeeding Donald is “quite an honor.”
Carnival Corp. is the parent company of flagship Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises, AIDA Cruises and Cunard.
How did Arnold Donald arrive at Carnival Corp.?
When Donald started in the role in 2013, he anticipated taking it on for only around three years – he had actually already semi-retired after spending more than 20 years at Monsanto, and later forming the Merisant Company where he served as CEO and chairman.
Arnold then spent a semi-retired period in leadership positions at nonprofits and served on various boards including Carnival Corp. until he stepped into the president and CEO position at the cruise giant in 2013, which he said seemed like a good opportunity.
When he took the lead at Carnival, he had specific goals to meet. Donald wanted to bring the company’s various brands together to behave like a federation – to share practices and strengthen the company as a whole.
Donald implemented three practices: Communication, collaboration and coordination.
“If you look at the leadership team in the management team, how we work together, that has dramatically changed,” he said. “The brands have extensive communication, collaboration and coordination, and they didn’t have it before from a diversity standpoint. The majority of our fleet now, a commercially is led by women.”
Leading the company through COVID-19
During his tenure, Donald led Carnival Corp. through the COVID-19 – and he said there actually has been some positive outcome of the pandemic that shut the cruise industry down for more than a year.
“(There) is nothing like a crisis to bring people together,” he said, noting the communication, collaboration and coordination that they worked so hard to improve across brands pre-pandemic was brought to a new level thanks to the pandemic.
The company is still recovering after having taken on debt during COVID-19, but Donald has confidence that things are moving in the right direction.
And Donald believes the industry, as a whole, is on the up and up: “There’s no question industry is on its way to an even better place.”
What’s next for Arnold Donald?
As vice chair and a member of the company’s board of directors, Donald said his number one job is to “help make sure that Josh is wildly successful.”
After that he’s hoping to have a bit more “me time” which he said he plans to fill with commitments to several external boards throwing out several names including The National WWII Museum and Bank of America, among others.
And after that he said he’ll consider what’s next, noting he may consider other boards – or perhaps private equity, which Donald was involved with when he “retired the first time.”
On the personal side, he’s looking to his family legacy.
“I’m going to take some time and personal development and leave something for my grandkids and great grandkids,” he explained. “So, I’m not looking to publish but I’m going to do some writing.”
To pursue this goal, he’s enrolled in a nonfiction writing course “so they will actually want to read it.”
He’d also like to pick his saxophone back up, he said.