(2:15 p.m. EDT) -- New cruise line presidents have been announced for several of Carnival Corporation's well-loved brands, including Holland America Line and Seabourn.
Gus Antorcha, the former Chief Operations Officer for Carnival Cruise Line, will take the reins at Holland America Line, the company announced today. The appointment follows an announcement at the end of June that Josh Leibowitz, Carnival Corp.'s former chief strategy office and a senior vice president at Cunard, would become president of the company's luxury brand, Seabourn.
The leadership appointments, as well as a change of organization for Costa Cruises, point to how the different brands might emerge from the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Both Antorcha and Leibowitz came from other executive positions within Carnival Corp., a possible signal that industry experience will be key to reviving cruise brands once sailing resumes. The two succeed Orlando Ashford and Rick Meadows, respectively.
Having executives in place -- particularly two people who have been considered dynamic within the Carnival Corp. family -- also quells fears that the two lines, which have devoted followings, would be somehow diminished. Both will report to Stein Kruse, Group CEO of Holland America Group and Carnival UK.
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Antorcha's replacement at Carnival Cruise Line will be Neil Palomba, the current president of Italy-based Costa Cruises.
"As part of our ongoing efforts to continue enhancing our global operations, these moves clearly demonstrate the depth and strength of our leadership team," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation.
"We are using this pause in guest operations to evaluate every aspect of our business, including our leadership structures, and make changes where appropriate to improve our business. Gus and Neil are both proven and strategic leaders within our organization, and we are looking forward to their contributions and success in these new roles as we position our company and our brands for a bright future."
Cruise Critic board members welcomed the appointments, particularly the fact that Antorcha has a background in guest services. "I feel a refreshing wave of optimism coming to HAL," taxmantoo wrote on the Holland American message boards. "Let's hope this will benefit long-time HAL cruisers as well as develop a new following."
Shortly after his appointment in June, Leibowitz had sent an email to Seabourn's loyalty club members. In it, he called himself an "avid vacation defender" and "a firm believer in the need to take time in life to relax and recharge."
"I think … that he's what the brand needs right now," jenidallas wrote on the Seabourn boards. "For a line like Seabourn that is heavily vested in providing a socially integrated luxury experience, figuring out how to deliver that safely in a post-COVID world is going to require a very strong strategic vision. I am glad they brought someone in who is familiar with the Carnival portfolio as he'll at least have a good operating familiarity with the shared services within the portfolio that may need to be leveraged to adjust operations to safely deliver a luxury experience."