The Cruise Lines International Association is rudderless again.
Just about a month after welcoming its new president and CEO, longtime Coast Guard official Thomas Ostebo, CLIA announced Wednesday that he had stepped down.
Ostebo’s departure, for unspecified personal reasons, was effective immediately. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
A spokeswoman for CLIA would not release any information beyond what was included in a short press release and did not address questions about the search process for a new CEO or a time frame for announcing a new leader.
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Cindy D’Aoust, executive vice president of membership and operations, will serve as acting CEO until a permanent top executive is appointed. She joined the industry trade group in December.
“CLIA's current leadership team is doing an outstanding job supporting our membership and driving the vision of the organization globally, even during this time of transition,” Global CLIA Chairman Adam Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said in a statement. “While it is unfortunate that Tom is departing CLIA, his desire to put his family first is a testament to his character, and we wish him the best in all his future endeavors.”
This is the second time since late last year that CLIA has been forced to find a new chief. Former CEO Christine Duffy announced in December that she was leaving to become president of Carnival Cruise Line, a job she started in February.
After a several-month effort headed by executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles, CLIA announced that Ostebo — a Coast Guard rear admiral serving as the agency’s director of strategic management — had been chosen for the position. He retired from the Coast Guard on July 1, having spent 38 years in military service.
A couple days after he started the job in early July, he told the Miami Herald in an interview that most of his experience with cruise ships came during his 25 years as a search and rescue pilot and from his role as district commander in Alaska.
“Most of my views of cruise ships are from about 50 feet in the air,” he said, adding that his wife suggested they go on a cruise together when he started the job.
After two days on the job, Ostebo described his experience as “interesting, frightening, shocking and exciting all at the same time in just the first couple days.”
He added: “I told my wife last night: ‘After day two, I feel like I’ve been here two years already.’ ”