New Carnival CEO says change has "nothing to do" with recent ship incidents

(CBS News) The world's largest cruise company is rocking the boat. Carnival Corporation announced Tuesday it is replacing its embattled chief executive officer Micky Arison, who has led the company since 1979.

Arison is the son of Carnival's founder, and as chief executive officer, he took Carnival from a small company with three ships to one that owns 102, carrying more than 10 million passengers a year.

Replacing Arison as chief executive next month is Arnold Donald, founder of the company that created the sweetener Equal. He's been on the Carnival board for 12 years.

Heat owner Micky Arison replaced as CEO of Carnival

On "CBS This Morning," Donald said the change in CEO has "nothing to do" with the recent incidents with its ships.

In January 2012, Carnival's Costa Concordia ran aground in Italy and tipped over. Thirty-two people were killed in the crash. Then, 13 months later, an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph knocked out power and left the ship adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for five days. Problems on three other Carnival boats -- The Elation, The Dream, and The Legend -- followed, prompting some potential vacationers to look elsewhere.

"CBS This Morning" special correspondent takes a look at the company's recent issues with its ships and how the move will affect the company. Watch his report in the video below.

"CTM" co-host Charlie Rose remarked to Donald during an interview on the broadcast: "It's hard, sir, not to believe that after a series of really bad publicity that it did not have an impact and this is somehow just a normal passing of the baton to a new CEO."

"I can understand the juxtaposition, the time frames," Donald replied. "Micky has been considering this for some time and actually delayed it because of the incidents."

Carnival has said it was splitting the chairman and chief executive officer roles. "I have been discussing this with the board for some time now," Arison said in a statement, "and feel the timing is right to align our company with corporate governance best practices..."

Donald continued on "CTM," referring to Arison, "He, really, after 34 years and in good governance practice in the U.K. and trends here in the U.S. felt it was important to separate the roles. ... We're constantly seeking improvements for comfort and enjoyment for our passengers and I look forward to continuing to do that."

Carnival has said Arison, famously known for his ownership of the basketball team the Miami Heat, will remain chairman of its board. According to Forbes, his net worth is about $5.2 billion.

Pointing to a downturn in public confidence in cruises, as seen in a recent Harris poll, CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg asked Donald on "CTM" about what the company is doing now to restore trust.

The new CEO said they're "constantly" making investments on the ships, saying "we have, you know, many, many satisfied guests." And those guests, Donald pointed out, are actually taking advantage of lower prices as the cruise line attempts to reach out to new customers.

Greenberg said: "In that regard, your discounting is amazing. You're doing four-night cruises sometimes for $179."

However, bookings with the cruise line, Greenberg noted, appear to be a little flat now.

Donald said: "Overall, we do fill the ships in the end. ... I would say encourage people to take advantage of those prices because they won't last very long."

For more with Donald, watch his full interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

Comments

Follow Us