Adam Goldstein, who has led Royal Caribbean International for the past 12 years, has been named to a new position with the Miami-based parent company.
Effective immediately, Goldstein, 54, is president and chief operating officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.,parent company of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and four other brands. The company announced the move Monday morning.
Cruise industry observers said they were not surprised by the news considering Goldstein’s history with the company and his strong record at Royal Caribbean International.
“Basically, they’re rewarding success,” said Mike Driscoll, editor of the weekly trade publication Cruise Week. “His ascendancy to corporate comes as a brand he’s headed up is really thriving, particularly considering all the challenges facing the cruise business.”
A search is on for a new president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, the largest brand in the company with 21 ships. The fleet includes the world’s largest cruise ships, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. Quantum of the Seas, the first in a new class of 4,180-passenger ships, will debut in November.
Goldstein will work with Royal Caribbean Cruises chairman and CEO Richard Fain on the strategic direction for the world’s second-largest cruise company. He will also oversee human resources, information technology, supply chain, corporate communications, safety and environment, government relations, guest port operations and commercial development.
Fain said that as the cruise business becomes more global and complex, the importance of sharing best practices across brands has become even more important. Royal Caribbean Cruises includes six brands and a total of 41 ships. In addition to Royal Caribbean International, the company also owns Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Club Cruises, the Spanish line Pullmantur, CDF Croisières de France and TUI Cruises through a 50 percent joint venture.
“Obviously I’m happy for Adam,” Fain said Monday during an interview at the company’s Miami headquarters. “But I’m also very happy for the company because I think the opportunities are really very big, and there’s nobody I can even imagine who could hold a candle to Adam in terms of his ability to take advantage of those opportunities.”
The news comes months after competitor Carnival Corp., based in Doral, went through a major corporate restructuring. Last summer, former chairman and CEO Micky Arison, whose father, Ted, founded the company, kept the chairman’s job but stepped back from the chief executive’s role. Later, longtime chief operating officer Howard Frank retired. New CEO Arnold Donald has since shuffled the deck at the world’s largest cruise ship company.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has not had a president and COO since 2005, when Jack Williams retired from the job after eight years to devote his time to charity. Fain said the position announced Monday, which was created for Goldstein, has changed significantly as the company has evolved.
Industry-watchers have long believed Goldstein is being groomed to take over the company’s top job whenever Fain — who joined Royal Caribbean’s board of directors as an outside director in 1979 and became chairman and CEO nine years later — retires. Fain, 66, has not announced any retirement plans; Royal Caribbean’s corporate governance principles say that there is no mandatory retirement age for directors.
“We believe this more likely sets the table for Goldstein to potentially succeed Chairman/CEO Richard Fain over the long run,” Wells Fargo analyst Timothy Conder wrote in a note to investors.
Fain would not comment on specifics of the company’s succession plan, saying only: “I think whenever we make a move, it takes into consideration the impact on succession planning.”
Goldstein, a Princeton graduate with a law degree from Harvard, joined Royal Caribbean in 1988 and worked in several positions before taking over at Royal Caribbean International.
“I’ve had phenomenal opportunities to be responsible for Royal Caribbean International over a sustained period, and I love my team and the brand,” he said. “But I’m really intrigued and enthusiastic to be more broadly involved.”
Fain said he has no set time line for filling the brand CEO position, though he would like to find a new leader quickly. The search will be both internal and external.
“We’re fortunate with Adam here, with a very strong team, we don’t feel under the gun to act precipitously,” Fain said. “We have the luxury of being able to do this in a methodical way.”
Miami cruise expert Stewart Chiron, CEO of CruiseGuy.com, said the job “has got to be one of the most coveted positions in the cruise industry.”
He added: “For somebody to be able to take over that position when the company is at the top of its game is quite an opportunity.”