Carnival Corp. CEO stepping down in August, after 9 years at the helm

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Carnival Corporation’s CEO Arnold Donald is stepping down on August 1, the Miami-based company announced Tuesday at Seatrade, the industry’s largest global conference, in Miami Beach.

Donald, a New Orleans native, navigated the world’s largest cruise company through the worst of the pandemic. He will be replaced by Josh Weinstein, 48, Carnival’s chief operations officer, who has worked for the pioneering cruise enterprise for 20 years.

Josh Weinstein, a 20-year veteran of Carnival Corporation and now the company’s chief operations officer, will become the CEO starting August 1.
Josh Weinstein, a 20-year veteran of Carnival Corporation and now the company’s chief operations officer, will become the CEO starting August 1.

Donald, 67, will continue sitting on the corporate board of directors and become its vice chair. He has been CEO since 2013.

“That’s a long time for a CEO. I think it’s important to get the next generation in,” Donald told reporters. “Right now things are pointing in a positive direction. Everything’s coming back. I think we can see where we’re headed, and I think things are set up great for somebody new to come in with a solid foundation of a platform to build on.”

In addition to his vice chair responsibilities on Carnival’s board, Donald said he will be looking to get involved on other boards, pursue writing projects, as well as spending more time with his grandchildren.

He called his biggest challenge in his nine years as CEO uniting the company’s nine brands, which range from affordable, family-focused Carnival Cruise Line to ultra high-end brands like Seabourn.

“We were a federation, but we weren’t really a federation. We had nine independent brands,” Donald said. “One of the outcomes of the pandemic was that it brought us even closer together and accelerated that communication and collaboration and I think that was the original biggest challenge.”

For its fiscal year that ended Nov. 30, 2021, Carnival paid him total compensation of $15 million, including a $1.5 million salary, $7.5 million in stock awards and a $6 million bonus, according to the company’s 2022 proxy statement submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Donald oversaw the company through extraordinary growth, and controversy. Under his watch, Carnival came under international scrutiny for its handling of the coronavirus, with the infectious disease spreading like wildfire on the ships at the onset of the pandemic. Many of its crew members ended up stranded onboard for months, sometimes without pay.

In 2017, Carnival Corp. received the Justice Department’s largest fine on record involving vessel pollution for illegally dumping oily waste into the ocean in 2013 and falsifying logs to cover it up. The company’s nine brands were put on a five-year probation, which it violated twice. In January, three months before their probation term was set to end, Donald and Chairman Micky Arison pleaded guilty for violating the probation and agreed to pay another $1 million fine.

The independent third-party auditor and the court-appointed monitor sent a letter to the federal judge overseeing the case in the Southern District of Florida saying that Carnival’s repeated failure to abide by the rules of its probation, “reflects a deeper barrier: a culture that seeks to minimize or avoid information that is negative, uncomfortable, or threatening to the company, including to top leadership.”

Future CEO Weinstein started at Carnival Corp. in 2002 as an attorney in the corporate legal department. In 2007, he became the corporation’s treasurer. In 2017, he was tapped to lead Carnival UK, overseeing the company’s British brands, Cunard and P&O Cruises, before his promotion to chief operations officer in 2020.

“I am truly humbled to take up the role of CEO and am honored to lead such a talented team of over 100,000 ship and shoreside team members who do such an incredible job in delivering unforgettable, happy vacations to our guests, day in and day out,” Weinstein said in a prepared statement.

“I have benefited tremendously from Arnold’s guidance and mentoring, and I would like to thank him, Micky Arison our Chairman and the entire Boards of Directors for their support. I look forward to building upon the company’s successes as we move forward.”