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Praise for Frank Del Rio and high hopes for Harry Sommer

Frank Del Rio, left, will pass the NCLH mantle to Harry Sommer effective July 1
With Frank Del Rio passing the mantle of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings to Harry Sommer, both are being hailed.

NCLH Chairman Russell Galbut thanked Del Rio for his 'invaluable contributions to this company and the cruise industry throughout the last 30 years,' adding: 'He has delivered superior financial results, expanded our fleet with luxurious and innovative ships, strengthened our global footprint and delivered unparalleled experiences for our guests. His passion and dedication will have a lasting impact on both our business and the industry at large.'

Thinking outside the box

Jason Liberty, president/CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, said Del Rio’s vision for the cruise industry has 'encouraged all of us to think outside the box when it comes to different sectors and product offerings. Together, we formed the Healthy Sail Panel, which not only kickstarted the healthy return to sailing for the industry but set a benchmark for industry collaboration. I wish Frank all the best in his future endeavors.'

Drive and resilience

Longtime cruise industry CEO Larry Pimentel — who started a brand, SeaDream Yacht Club, after 9/11, the same tough period as Del Rio was launching Oceania Cruises — considers the NCLH chief 'one of the most persistent guys I ever met. He has such drive and resilience.'


Frank Del Rio at the groundbreaking for NCL's new PortMiami terminal


'Frank Del Rio is a leader in our industry and we will all miss working with him,' PortMiami Director Hydi Webb said. 'Frank is a pioneer who launched a cruise line and a visionary who transformed Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. He’s also a friend whose wisdom and kindness I will always value.

'I congratulate and look forward to continuing to work with both Harry Sommer and David Herrera in their new roles with NCL Holdings and Norwegian Cruise Line,' Webb continued. 'We are proud of the strong relationship with NCL, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.'

'Very few people have accomplished more than Frank Del Rio,' said Luis Ajamil, president/CEO of Bermello Ajamil & Partners, who marveled how Del Rio 'built an entire company, built a team of incredible people to guide its development, [came out of retirement] to run NCLH and guided it through an incredible period of growth and transformation and then though the hard times from COVID. 


NCL's landmark terminal at PortMiami

'It was such a pleasure for our entire team to work with Frank and many others to design and oversee the development of NCL's landmark terminal at PortMiami,' Ajamil added. He cited Del Rio's combination of 'caring about the big picture items while at the same time focusing on the details.

'Without his leadership, Miami would not have seen such a magnificent building. He left his mark in the industry and in Miami.'

Passion for art and design

Jorge Mesa, founding partner, Studio DADO, the designers of many areas on ships across the NCLH fleet, called Del Rio a 'true visionary' who has 'always pushed for excellence. His attention to detail and passion for art and design have truly made an impact on the Norwegian brand identity. He has taken the brand to new heights and has left a mark in the industry. He will be missed as CEO but his contributions to the industry will forever live on.'

Mesa said Harry Sommer is taking his new role with open arms after Del Rio's mentoring.

'Harry has been more involved in the design process and valued working with the design team to continue creating beautiful vessels. We are excited to be a part of the continued evolution of the [company] with Harry,' he said.


Harry Sommer in Norwegian Prima's Penrose Atrium, designed by Studio DADO

The next chapter with Harry Sommer

For his part, Del Rio expressed confidence that 'now is the right time to pass the baton to Harry. Having worked closely with Harry for decades, I know firsthand that his talent and skills are ideally suited to take this company into its next era.'

NCLH Chairman Galbut echoed this sentiment, calling Sommer a 'highly experienced leader and operator' who worked alongside Del Rio for many years and 'helped drive the success of our largest, award-winning brand during a critical time. He successfully relaunched the NCL fleet following a more than 500-day pause, delivered the game-changing Norwegian Prima, the first of six ships in the brand’s new class, and led the team to a record-breaking booking year in 2022.

'Harry is undoubtedly the right leader to lead our company forward into the next chapter of growth.'

Seatrade's State of the Industry keynote

Del Rio is confirmed to join fellow industry leaders on the State of the Industry keynote session March 28 at Seatrade Cruise Global.