Antorcha to Lead Holland America, Palomba to Carnival

Holland America Line has a new president, Gus Antorcha, most recently chief operations officer for Carnival Cruise Line. In his new role, Antorcha reports to Stein Kruse, group CEO of Holland America Group and Carnival U.K. Antorcha fills a leadership post vacant since Orlando Ashford left the company in May.    

Antorcha's executive appointment was one of two announced today by parent company, Carnival Corporation. In another move, Neil Palomba, currently president of Italy-based Costa Cruises, was named executive vice president and chief operations officer for Carnival Cruise Line, effective immediately. He'll report to Christine Duffy, president of the "Fun Ship" brand.

During Palomba’s transition, Costa Cruises' leadership team will continue to report to Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group and Carnival Asia, who will take on the presidential duties, aided by a new commercial officer (see below for more details).

In a press announcement, Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival Corporation said, "As part of our ongoing efforts to continue enhancing our global operations, these moves clearly demonstrate the depth and strength of our leadership team. We are using this pause in guest operations to evaluate every aspect of our business, including our leadership structures, and make changes where appropriate to improve our business."

Donald noted that "Gus and Neil are both proven and strategic leaders within our organization, and we are looking forward to their contributions and success in these new roles as we position our company and our brands for a bright future.”

Antorcha's New Role 

Carnival Corp. said Antorcha will guide Holland America's return to cruise operations and plans for future growth, including sales and marketing, revenue management, deployment and itinerary planning, public relations, guest services operations and strategic planning.

Holland America Westerdam Updated Refurbished Photo by Holland America Line Editorial Use Only

Holland America's Westerdam is shown above; photo courtesy Holland America Line 

Kruse, who has worked with Antorcha often within the Carnival family of brands, said that "these are unprecedented times, and his wisdom and competent judgement will ensure Holland America Line’s long-term success. Gus always demonstrates strategic vision, fiscal awareness and superior leadership with a keen ability to keep his eye on the end result to ensure success.”

With a nod to the trade and their key role in the line's future success, Antorcha said, "I look forward to collaborating with our travel advisor community to continue supporting them and helping them build their Holland America Line business.”

Antorcha spent more than nine years at Carnival Cruise Line and, prior to becoming chief operations officer, he was the brand's executive vice president, guest services, responsible for onboard operations, and senior vice president, guest commerce. He also is a former partner and managing director for Boston Consulting Group.

Palomba's New Role

Carnival Triumph New Orleans Dock Carnival Cruise Line Editorial Use Only Copyright by Carnival Cruise Line
Carnival Triumph is shown docked at the Port of New Orleans; photo courtesy Carnival Cruise Lines.

Palomba assumes the role of chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation’s namesake and largest brand, Carnival Cruise Line. His executive responsibilities will include oversight of all hotel operations, guest services, guest commerce and guest care.

Since February 2015, Palomba has led Costa Cruises with responsibility for managing all aspects of the brand, including strategy, product design, guest care, sales, marketing, revenue management and fleet deployment, among other areas. Under Palomba's leadership, Costa introduced its “Italy’s Finest” brand positioning, debuted a number of guest and onboard experience innovations and also launched Costa Smeralda, Costa's first LNG-powered ship. 

Prior to becoming president, Palomba had served as Costa's senior vice president, hotel operations and guest experience. He's also had other leadership positions within the cruise industry, was a corporate operating officer for one global line, and had multiple onshore and onboard roles including the hotel and deck departments; he also served as a second officer. 

Other Costa Changes 

Michael Thamm, group CEO, Costa Group and Carnival Asia, will add the role of president to his responsibilities, as Palomba moves to Carnival Cruise Line. In a press statement, Thamm also announced that Mario Zanetti has been named Costa's chief commercial officer, based in Genoa, Italy. He'll also continue as president of Costa Group Asia.

While Palomba will be taking the role of executive vice president and chief operations officer for the Carnival brand, he'll continue to oversee resumption of Costa's cruise operations in the next weeks "to ensure a smooth transition while progressively taking over the new responsibilities," said Thamm.

"The current pause in our cruise operations has given us the opportunity of redesigning every aspect of our business, from our commercial strategy, to product design including our organizational structure to make sure we come back stronger when we resume operations," Thamm noted. "We all thank Neil for his outstanding contribution to the success of Costa Cruises in the past six years and wish him the best for his new role within the Carnival family of brands."

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