Last updated: 10:06 AM ET, Fri January 09 2015

Del Rio Replaces Sheehan as Norwegian CEO

Cruise Line & Cruise Ship Norwegian Cruise Line Theresa Norton January 09, 2015

Del Rio Replaces Sheehan as Norwegian CEO

PHOTO: Norwegian CEO Kevin Sheehan, right, celebrated with Prestige CEO Frank Del Rio when the acquisition closed. Today Del Rio succeeds Sheehan as CEO of Norwgian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (Courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.)

The management upheaval continues at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. as CEO Kevin Sheehan departs and is replaced by Oceania Cruises Co-Founder Frank Del Rio.

Sheehan, a casual and outspoken executive, guided Norwegian Cruise Line as it built its largest ships with innovative public spaces and branded entertainment. He took the company public in early 2013 and then spearheaded the $3 billion purchase of Prestige Cruise Holdings, which operates Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises in November. Del Rio was chairman and CEO of Prestige.

Norwegian Cruise Holdings issued a press release early Jan. 9, which said the board of directors named Del Rio president and CEO, succeeding Sheehan, “who has decided to leave the company.”

“Frank Del Rio has established himself as a leader and innovator in our industry,” said Steve Martinez, a member of Norwegian’s board of directors. “Norwegian is poised for continued growth and we are delighted to have Frank lead our team during the next phase of the company’s evolution. We also thank Kevin Sheehan for his service to the company. Kevin has built Norwegian into the highly successful company it is today — a company that has reported 25 consecutive quarters of growth in trailing 12-month adjusted EBITDA coupled with consistent margin improvement. Most recently, Kevin was integral to the Prestige acquisition, assembling a diversified portfolio of brands that spans all market segments in the cruise industry, which we believe puts the company in a strong position for the future.”

The press release includes a quote from Sheehan: “It has been a privilege to lead Norwegian over the last seven years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and take comfort in the knowledge that I am leaving the company much healthier and stronger than when I joined. With the company set for success, I hand the baton off to Frank, a proven leader in the cruise industry.”

Del Rio has served as CEO of Prestige or its predecessor since April 2007. He founded Oceania with Joe Watters in 2002 as a pioneering “upper premium” cruise line. Under Del Rio’s direction, the parent company Prestige Cruise Holdings acquired luxury line Regent in 2008 from the Carlson Company.

Sheehan joined Norwegian in 2007 as CFO and became CEO the next year. He began making changes, redeploying two ships from a money-losing Hawaii operation, overseeing construction of eye-catching ships and returning the company to profitability. He also rebuilt Norwegian’s relationship with travel agents through the Partners First program. Many will remember Sheehan’s appearance on the CBS TV show “Undercover Boss” when he worked in disguise on several ships to get crew members’ views of the company. In June 2014, Sheehan was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Before joining Norwegian in 2007, Sheehan was chairman and CEO of Cendant Corp.’s Vehicle Services Division and was responsible for Avis Rent A Car, Budget Rent A Car, Budget Truck, PHH Vehicle Management, First Fleet and Wright Express.

Today, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. operates Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands. These brands operate 21 ships with approximately 40,000 lower berths visiting more than 430 destinations worldwide. The brands will introduce six new ships through 2019.

Theresa Norton