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Josh Weinstein takes over as Carnival Corp. & plc CEO

Outgoing CEO Arnold Donald high-fives his successor, Josh Weinstein, second right, at a ship naming. At right, Micky Arison. Weinstein is also pictured in the inset
Today marks a seismic shift in cruise industry leadership with Josh Weinstein, 48, succeeding Arnold Donald as president and CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc.

The 20-year company veteran described his mood as 'ecstatic' as he begins his 'dream job.'

Colleagues consider Weinstein both a 'powerhouse' and a 'mensch.' His style involves asking a lot of questions and he's a hands-on leader who views leading as supporting his teams.

Weinstein's current top priority is completing the fleet's restart and doing so safely, in compliance with laws and regulations, and 'taking care of our ship teams, who can then take care of our guests. We've been doing a great job during our restart and we want to see that to a successful close.'

Welcomed by fellow new-gen CEO Jason Liberty

He's friendly with fellow new-generation CEO, Jason Liberty, 46, at Royal Caribbean Group, who has said: 'I'm ... a big fan of Josh. He's done a lot of great things inside that company and I think he's well-prepared, similar to how I was groomed for this position. They have groomed Josh with intent.'

For his part, Weinstein has 'a lot of respect for Jason. I think he's great for Royal Caribbean and frankly, that means the industry,' because when any company does well, it reflects well on others.

A 'who's who' of mentors

Weinstein doesn't know if he was destined to become CEO, but counts himself fortunate to have had 'incredibly generous mentors ... a who's who in our history.'

Joining Carnival in 2002 as an attorney in the legal department, his first boss was longtime General Counsel Arnie Perez. He became treasurer in late 2007, just as the Great Recession was about to unfold. So it seems 'surreal' that his former boss, CFO David Bernstein, is 'now reporting to me because he's been such a strong influence and mentor for me for such a long time.'

Plus, Weinstein is grateful for the 'open doors' of Micky Arison, Arnold Donald, Howard Frank, Gerry Cahill and Stein Kruse, who was his boss when he led Carnival UK as president in Southampton, from 2017 to 2020. 

Making tough calls

Donald called Weinstein back to Miami early in the pandemic to become chief operations officer and 'cash czar,' tasked with conserving cash to give the company a longer runway. He made tough calls, including shedding 23 older ships. The hardest thing, though, by far, was cutting jobs. He's glad many are now coming back.

Weinstein has close relationships with Arison and with the outgoing CEO Donald, who today moves to vice chairman. They and the board are there for guidance as needed. Donald considers Weinstein 'ideally suited' for the job and has 'great confidence in him.'

Big shoes to fill

In terms of the industry, Weinstein can't say if his and Liberty's styles will differ from their respective predecessors.

'Jason is certainly a different person than Richard Fain. And certainly, I'm a different person than Arnold. Following in Arnold's footsteps in the space of media, public relations, those are big shoes to fill,' he said. However, Weinstein thinks that becoming CEO is not going to change him much. He's comfortable as the public face when that's called for but expects to be most focused on supporting his teams.

It's too early to talk about how he'll organize reports or if he'll create new positions or redistribute responsibilities.

Open door

One thing is for sure: Weinstein will continue the 'open-door' management philosophy he's learned as part of the Carnival family.

For more, see 'A conversation with Carnival Corp. & plc's new CEO,' coming soon in September's Seatrade Cruise Review, the official publication of Seatrade Cruise Med. A 2020 profile of Weinstein is available to download here.