NEW YORK (AP)—Arnold W. Donald strolls across the Carnival Splendor’s lido deck, checking in on passengers. He cozies up, places a hand on their shoulder and asks: Are you having a blast?
He sure hopes so.
For Donald, the charismatic new CEO of Carnival Corp., the “great camaraderie” passengers find onboard his ships matters more than fancy restaurants or countless amenities. That intangible feeling isn’t easily marketed, but is crucial as he tries to fix the world’s largest cruise operator.
It’s been a rough two years for the company. First, its Costa Concordia sank off the coast of Italy, killing 32 passengers. Then an engine-room fire on its Carnival Triumph left the ship without power. For five days, passengers lacked air conditioning, hot food and use of most toilets. Cable news was fixated, dubbing it the “poop cruise.”
Demand for cruises plunged. Carnival slashed prices to fill its 102 ships and announced a $700 million initiative adding emergency generators and upgrading fire suppression systems.