'Jennifer is just a few months shy of what would have been her 30th anniversary with Carnival and, needless to say, she has led countless public relations and communications initiatives for our company during that time,' president Christine Duffy said in a memo to employees.
'She was part of the team that established Carnival’s public relations department and built it into what has long been viewed among media as a truly exceptional PR and communications function.'
Duffy thanked de la Cruz for all her contributions and congratulated her on the new job.
'It's been a wonderful three decade journey with tons of fun and laughs along the way,' de la Cruz told Seatrade Cruise News. 'I have learned so much from many extraordinary mentors and colleagues and have been privileged to work with so many great people. I'm delighted to be staying in the travel industry and greatly looking forward to this new adventure.'
Numerous colleagues and media praised de la Cruz's professionalism.
'It was clear very early on that Jennifer has a keen media mind,' said Tim Gallagher, who led Carnival's public relations for decades and had hired de la Cruz right out of college when he was at Al Wolfe Associates. They both went on to form Carnival's in-house PR department.
'There have been a multitude of changes in the PR game during her tenure at Carnival and she has always been able to adapt to the ways of a rapidly evolving information world,' Gallagher said. 'No doubt she’ll continue to do that, as well as enjoy success in her profession. She is a pro.'
The prolific cruise ship architect Joe Farcus, who designed the bulk of the Fun Ship fleet, considers de la Cruz 'cool, informed and always ready with the comprehensive and correct answers no matter the difficulty. And a great woman and friend,' Farcus added. 'I wish her the best because she has earned it.'
Andy Newman, SVP of NewmanPR, Carnival's longtime public relations agency, has worked with de la Cruz to introduce more than 20 ships and called her 'the consummate professional.' He enjoyed their collaboration even though their university football teams are the ultimate rivals. What Newman appreciated the most is that 'she always had confidence and faith in the good judgment of people who work around her, us included.'
He added: 'She's well-liked by the media. They regard her as being very professional.'
Theresa Norton, editor-in-chief, Vacation Agent and Agent@Home magazines, part of travAlliancemedia, concurred: 'Jennifer is the quintessential PR professional. Always accessible, always accurate and always fun.'
'Jennifer is as fun as the Fun Ships themselves,' according to Cruise Week editor Mike Driscoll, 'and that's one of the reasons she has been one of the greats of her trade. Others ranged from respecting the needs of journalists and travel agents to fully understanding the cruise industry.
'Not only was she loyal to Carnival Cruise Line for more than 20 years,' Driscoll said, 'but Jennifer has been a very steady hand during difficult times and good times as well.'
Nancy Schretter, founder of The Family Travel Network and Together For Good, said de la Cruz has 'demonstrated strong communications leadership and has made outstanding contributions to the Carnival brand.' Schretter has always been impressed with her 'incredible commitment, drive and dedication.'
De la Cruz's last day at Carnival is Jan. 26.