Seatrade Cruise News is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Jan Swartz on Holland America Group's restructuring

Shifting some functions back to the brands enables 'faster decisions, speed to market and flexibility,' Jan Swartz said
The Holland America Group has been undergoing changes, as President Jan Swartz detailed to Seatrade Cruise News.

Brands within the group have taken back a number of functions that were previously shared, and there are some new lines of reporting.

Swartz called it an 'evolution of the organization tied to meeting the needs of the market and supporting thoughtful succession planning,'

Systematic review

The changes spring from a systematic review of the shared service functions within the Holland America Group to see where scale benefits were being achieved versus whether shifting those functions back to the brands would enable 'faster decisions, speed to market and flexibility,' Swartz said.

The reorganization has been driven within the group's leadership team, with input from Carnival Corp. & plc CEO Josh Weinstein.

'It ties to Josh's vision of focusing on strengthening each and every brand's positioning and commercial agility and performance,' Swartz elaborated. 'He really is focused on who is the target market for each brand, who is the customer, how do we market to them, how do we sell the product effectively, how do we elevate the guest experience.

'I believe a lot of these organizational changes will help our brand leaders accelerate that performance,' she continued. 'It's tied to [Weinstein's] larger vision for this next phase of the corporation.'

Now many within the Holland America Group have a change of reporting line, but they're performing the same functions they had before, just with 'more manageable spans.'

Group structure served well during the pandemic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the group structure served the company well. For example, having one maritime group dealing with all the brands — Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Seabourn and P&O Cruises Australia — was an effective way to tackle unprecedented challenges together. And this built strong relationships across the group.

Emerging from the pandemic and facing a 'highly competitive vacation market, we believed we needed to shift more control back to the brand leaders,' Swartz said, 'so they could be more agile and faster in their decision-making in meeting the needs of the guests and our teams onboard.'

It's 'a journey,' evolving with the opportunities and needs of each phase of the business.

Fleet operations group goes away

One change is to the fleet operations group, formerly led for many years by EVP Keith Taylor, that oversaw all the nautical and technical matters for the four brands. When Taylor retired last year, that gave the chance to look at how to structure the group going forward.

Swartz said fleet operations was effective when Taylor ran it because they were standardizing and harmonizing health, environment, safety and security policies. Now those are in place across brands, moving the maritime leadership back to each brand allows a stronger connection between the shipboard and shoreside leaders, while maintaining the common policies.

Taylor was dealing with 35 ships and 70 captains, a large span. It was decided that once the fleet returned to normal operations, having brand-dedicated heads of maritime would let them be much closer to their shipboard leaders.

Heads of maritime

This month, as earlier reported, Remco Buis was tapped for the newly created position of SVP maritime, port strategy & operations at Princess Cruises, reporting to President John Padgett. Eric Chamberlin, who was Keith Taylor's right hand in the group structure, is now No. 2 to Buis, heading maritime at Princess. 

At Holland America Line/Seabourn, Rob Boksem is the head of maritime, reporting to HAL President Gus Antorcha, with a dotted line to Seabourn President Josh Leibowitz.

And Greg Jackson is the maritime lead for P&O Cruises Australia, reporting to President Marguerite Fitzgerald.

Chamberlin, Boksem and Jackson have been with their respective brands for many years, while Buis is a veteran of Carnival Maritime, Carnival Corp. and Carnival Cruise Line. He's also held a variety of port leadership roles at other companies.

Port operations back to the brands

Port operations were shifted back to the brands, too, easing the span for those who once supported all four brands on seven continents.

Depending on their roles, personnel in port operations are now divided into different reporting lines. If, for instance, they work in embarkation services, a guest-facing job, that's under guest experience, while those involved in behind-the-scenes areas such as port contracts have a different boss.

Robert Morgenstern to succeed Charlie Ball

The port operations changes also allow Holland America Group to position Robert Morgenstern, who oversaw this area when it was in shared services, to succeed Charlie Ball — a decades-long veteran of Holland America-Princess Alaska — as head of the Alaska business when Ball retires in April.

Information technology

IT is another area that's evolved. After SVP Jason Grant left in April 2021, that gave the opportunity to look at what parts could be folded back into the brands versus staying centralized.

Systems that are closer to the brands and the guest experience — such as and the shipboard apps — went back to the brands. People working on the Holland America website now report to an IT leader who answers to HAL's Antorcha. Same thing for Princess and P&O Australia.

However, the reservations system POLAR, which supports all the brands, remains in the group IT structure.

What's staying in shared services

The areas continuing in Holland America Group shared services are Holland America-Princess Alaska, IT (group functions), supply chain, transformation management (strategy), shoreside people officer (HR), legal and finance.

Jan Swartz's seven direct reports

Swartz now has seven direct reports. They include the brand presidents Antorcha, Padgett and Fitzgerald. In a change, Seabourn's Leibowitz reports to Antorcha.

Swartz's other direct reports are Simon Waldron, CFO for the Holland America Group; Natalya Leahy, COO, who oversees all the shared services functions; Paul McClelland, VP governance, safety, environmental operations and policy; and Sandy Olsen, VP corporate affairs (who joined from Carnival Australia in May 2022).

Folding corporate innovation into Princess Cruises

Before Padgett was named Princess president in October 2021, he was chief experience and innovation officer at Carnival Corp. & plc where his team developed the Medallion wearable and IoT technology, among numerous other initiatives. Swartz said Padgett has been integrating the innovation leadership into his Princess organization.

So, are things settled?

After these changes, can more be expected?

Swartz answered: 'There's always evolution. All corporations continue to evolve just as the market dynamics demand.'