D'Aoust and Goldstein Discuss Her New Role as CLIA's President and CEO

Cindy D’Aoust is the new president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

In 2016, the cruise industry will welcome 24 million passengers, the most in its history, Cindy D’Aoust, the new president and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), told thousands of Seatrade Cruise Global attendees this week at the conference's “State of the Global Cruise Industry” general session at Port Everglades, FL.

That passenger count has jumped 68 percent in the last decade. “Much of the growth that we see can be attributed to the globalization of the cruise industry itself,” D'Aoust emphasized. She told attendees that Australia sourcing had grown to one million passengers this year, China cruising had expanded to more than 700,000 passengers in just a few years, and “the U.S. and Europe continue to be very strong.”

Adam Goldstein, global CLIA chairman, and president and COO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., introduced D’Aoust, to the audience, as she was making her first Seatrade appearance in the new job. D’Aoust actually joined CLIA in 2014 and had served as executive vice president of membership and operations. She also served for seven months as CLIA’s acting CEO following the resignation of Thomas Ostebo last summer.

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Fielding a strong hospitality and management background, D'Aoust was formerly chief operating officer of Meeting Professionals International and had other senior roles with Maxvantage and Maritz Travel. During a Seatrade press conference to discuss D’Aoust’s appointment, Goldstein praised her management, leadership and strategic skills, noting that a full competitive search was conducted for Ostebo’s job. She impressed Goldstein and CLIA's executive committee, demonstrated her capabilities and earned the job, he said.

Goldstein said: "The reason why Cindy has been promoted to the permanent [post] of president and CEO of CLIA is because of the great work that she’s done, especially in the last seven months where she’s been the acting CEO but also really from the first day she started work at the organization in late 2014. CLIA as an organization has a busy agenda and there’s lots of things going on at all times within the membership, with executive partners, travel agents, destinations and ports around the world, suppliers [and others]."

He described D’Aoust as “unafraid” and “really prepared to wade in” and do what needs to be done. In addition, “she’s very interested in the global aspect of CLIA, which is one of the really crucial elements of what we’re trying to achieve as an industry association,” Goldstein told reporters at the press conference.

During Seatrade, CLIA and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) announced that they’d collaborate to transform FCCA's quarterly magazine into a global cruise industry publication. “It’s a new expansion of our relationship,” said D’Aoust. “It’s one project but we’ll build upon it…as we’re sister organizations with the same members and same goals.”

CLIA had taken seven months in its executive search, which D’Aoust feels was beneficial because it gave her a chance to understand better what the president/CEO role was and to ask herself the question, at this point of her career, whether she really wanted the top leadership spot. “Those are important questions and for me, not only did I learn that I wanted it, I also felt I could do a very good job.”

A U.S. Coast Guard rear admiral, Ostebo brought a strong regulatory and maritime background to his CLIA presidential role, while D’Aoust is known for her sizable hospitality and travel industry experience. So how does D'Aoust plan to get up to speed on the regulatory and maritime side of the business? That's become increasingly important in the aftermath of Costa Concordia and with increasing regulatory and safety requirements placed on cruise ships sailing across the globe.

"Obviously we’re surrounded by experts and I think the best leaders are those that bring out and leverage the talent that they have,” D'Aoust stressed. She plans to identify the best global experts in these functional areas, work with them and tackle any issues.

Weighing in, Goldstein stressed the incredible “complexity” of the industry, noting there’s so much happening that the best attribute is an “endless, insatiable curiosity about how it all works.” He said it’s most important for a leader to augment their specific background by looking in every nook and cranny of the business to see what you can learn, understand issues and learn about the expertise that exists.

“She does that very well,” Goldstein told reporters. “She has a great foundation on which to build her further leadership.”

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