Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Group, the world’s two largest cruise companies, have both announced changes to key executive positions as they look to recover from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Royal Caribbean Group has announced that Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, the current President and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, will be stepping down from her role, to be replaced by Laura Hodges Bethge, currently Executive Vice President, Shared Services Operations.
Michael Thamm, CEO of Carnival Corporation’s Costa Group, the European arm of the corporation, is leaving the company immediately, according to a report in German media, as well as a letter sent internally at Carnival Corp. He will not be replaced, and Carnival’s AIDA and Costa brands will instead report directly to Carnival Corp. CEO Josh Weinstein.
While the changes in Carnival Corp’s executive structure signal an ongoing effort to consolidate costs after significant debt was taken on during the pandemic shutdown, Lutoff-Perlo’s transition is a more traditional move following a long career at the top of Celebrity Cruises.
“It has always been difficult for me to imagine leaving the incredible Celebrity brand, but the time is right for me to start an exciting new chapter and turn the helm over to a new leader,” said Lutoff-Perlo. “It has been my great honour to lead this brand and work alongside the phenomenal Celebrity shoreside team and crew.”
Lutoff-Perlo, who led Celebrity Cruises through the pandemic, will transition to Vice Chair, External Affairs for Royal Caribbean Group at the end of this month, and will continue to report to Royal Caribbean Group President and CEO Jason Liberty.
“Lisa has been instrumental in transforming the Celebrity Cruises brand to what it is today,” said Jason Liberty, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean Group. “From helping us introduce the revolutionary Edge Series of ships to advancing the role of women in maritime careers, Lisa has had an incredible career during her time leading Celebrity Cruises, and multiple parts of our Royal Caribbean International brand.”
“I have had the pleasure of working with Lisa for almost 18 years, and I know her expertise will be invaluable as she transitions to serve as my Vice Chair, External Affairs,” he added.
“I would also like to congratulate Laura for her appointment as the next brand president of Celebrity Cruises,” Liberty said. “With her operational experience, business acumen and deep understanding of our company and the cruise industry, I know Laura is the right person to lead Celebrity Cruises to its next phases of growth.”
Laura Hodges Bethge has been with Royal Caribbean Group for more than 23 years and has held senior positions in many different areas including product development, hotel and marine operations, sales, marketing, product innovation, market development and investor relations.
Previously, she was Senior Vice President of product development for Royal Caribbean International, and led the teams conceptualising their Quantum class and Icon class ships, private island destinations, and new experiences introduced throughout the fleet.
“Now 15 ships strong, this is an exciting time for Celebrity Cruises,” said Laura Hodges Bethge. “This year alone, we’ll be welcoming Celebrity Ascent, and reaching key construction milestones in the yet-to-be-named fifth ship in the revolutionary Edge Series.”
“I look forward to building on the incredible achievements of Lisa and this world class team, as we continue to break boundaries and chart new courses in the industry,” she added.