Frank J. Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ president and CEO, will retire in June after a 30-year career in the cruise industry.
On March 20, 2023, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) announced that Frank J. Del Rio has decided to retire and step down from his position as the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, and from its Board of Directors, effective June 30, 2023.
Del Rio will serve in a consultant capacity as a Senior Advisor to the Board through 2025.
NCLH is a global cruise company that operates the Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises brands.
Del Rio’s three decades in the cruise industry
Frank J. Del Rio’s well-deserved retirement is the culmination of a remarkable career spanning three decades in the cruise industry. Del Rio has led NCLH since 2015. Before joining Norwegian, Del Rio headed up Prestige Cruise International—which operated Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises—from 2002 until its acquisition by Norwegian.
Del Rio founded Oceania Cruises in 2002, creating a new “upper premium” market space in the cruise industry.
During his tenure with NCLH, Del Rio successfully led the company in welcoming eight new and innovative ships since 2015, introducing a second private island destination, Harvest Caye, and achieving industry-leading yields and financial results.
Del Rio also led NCLH through the COVID-19 pandemic, the most tumultuous time in its 56-year history, and was a vocal leader and advocate for the entire cruise industry through unprecedented times as it worked to resume cruise operations globally.
“On behalf of the Board and the entire organization, I thank Frank for his invaluable contributions to this Company and the cruise industry throughout the last 30 years,” said Russell W. Galbut, chairman of the Board of Directors of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“He has delivered superior financial results, expanded our fleet with luxurious and innovative ships, strengthened our global footprint, and delivered unparalleled experiences for our guests. His passion and dedication will have a lasting impact on both our business and the industry at large,” Galbut continued.
Harry J. Sommer to succeed Del Rio as CEO
Harry J. Sommer, who has served as president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line since 2020, has been appointed to succeed Del Rio. Sommer will also join the company’s Board of Directors, effective July 1, 2023.
David J. Herrera, who has served as Chief Consumer Sales and Marketing Officer of NCL since 2021, will succeed Sommer as President of NCL, effective April 1.
Sommer has more than 30 years of cruise industry experience across sales, marketing, revenue management, passenger services, itinerary development, and international business development and operations.
In addition to his role as president and CEO of NCL, Sommer expanded his responsibilities in recent months to include oversight for all of the company’s other revenue-generating functional areas, including Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, and the tri-branded Onboard Revenue department. Previously, he served as President, International, and throughout his career also held executive roles at various cruise operators.
“The Board is thrilled to appoint Harry to succeed Frank as the Company’s next CEO—the culmination of a thoughtful succession planning process. A highly experienced leader and operator, Harry has worked alongside Frank for many years and helped drive the success of our largest, award-winning brand during a critical time. He successfully relaunched the NCL fleet following a more than 500-day pause, delivered the game-changing Norwegian Prima, the first of six ships in the brand’s new class, and led the team to a record-breaking booking year in 2022. Harry is undoubtedly the right leader to lead our Company forward into the next chapter of growth,” Galbut said in a press release.
NCLH’s current and future leaders speak about the transition
“Leading Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career,” said Frank Del Rio.
“My heartfelt gratitude goes out to our 39,000 team members around the globe whose innovation, tenacity, and collaboration have strengthened this Company and built the industry’s most passionate and loyal base of cruisers. With the Company solidly positioned for 2023 and beyond, I am confident that now is the right time to pass the baton to Harry. Having worked closely with Harry for decades, I know firsthand that his talent and skills are ideally suited to take this Company into its next era. I look forward to continuing to work closely with Harry, the Board, and our management team during the coming months to ensure a seamless transition and I am delighted to continue to serve as a Senior Advisor to the Board after the transition.”
“I am incredibly humbled to succeed Frank as this iconic Company’s next President and CEO, and I’m grateful to have the unwavering support of him and the Board to lead the Company as we embark on the next chapter for our storied brands,” Sommer said.
“I am proud to have been a part of the Company’s successes during the last 15 years, and I look forward to the bright future ahead, including the transformational growth we have in the pipeline. I am honored and excited to lead and work alongside what is unquestionably the best team in the industry to deliver on our business and financial goals.”
Sommer added, “I’m particularly happy that David will be leading Norwegian Cruise Line as he has been a key contributor to NCL’s success in recent years. With his strong financial, sales, marketing, and business development background, David will be further empowered to guide the NCL brand on an accelerated path forward. I am confident that he is the right person, at the right time, to lead this amazing brand into a bright future ahead.”
“I look forward to continuing to work alongside Harry and our leadership team to build on our strong momentum and continue to provide NCL guests with industry-leading experiences,” Herrera said. “I am honored and grateful for this incredible opportunity to lead this premier cruise line and our world-class team.”
About Harry Sommer
Harry J. Sommer has over 30 years of experience in the cruise industry, currently serving as President and Chief Executive Officer of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ largest brand, Norwegian Cruise Line. In this role Sommer leads sales, marketing, revenue management, passenger services, itinerary development, international business development, and operations for NCL.
In addition to his role at NCL, Sommer has recently assumed oversight responsibilities for all of the Company’s other revenue-generating functional areas, including Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and the tri-branded Onboard Revenue department. Effective April 1, 2023, Sommer will become President and Chief Executive Officer-Elect in a transitional role where he will oversee all three of the Company’s brands and tri-branded departments, reporting to Del Rio.
Previously, Sommer served as President, International for the Company’s portfolio of award-winning brands, including Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. In this role, he was responsible for sales, marketing, public relations, business development and office operations for all markets outside of the United States and Canada. Sommer led efforts to expand the Company’s global footprint with the opening of several offices around the world and significantly strengthened its international presence.
During his tenure in the industry, Sommer has held a variety of executive roles at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Prestige Cruise Holdings, Renaissance Cruises, and Viking River Cruises, including Executive Vice President, International Business Development; Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer; Senior Vice President Finance; Chief Information Officer and Chief Accounting Officer.
He also co-founded Luxury Cruise Center, a high-end travel agency specializing in premium and luxury cruise experiences.
Sommer holds an M.B.A. from Pace University and a B.B.A. from Baruch College and is a Certified Public Accountant (inactive).
About David Herrera, NCL’s incoming president
David Herrera is currently the Chief Consumer Sales and Marketing Officer for Norwegian Cruise Line, responsible for driving demand and global market share across NCL’s key global source markets. In his role, he oversees the organization’s consumer advertising and promotional strategy as well as direct outbound and online sales channels.
Most recently, he served as the Senior Vice President of Brand Finance, Strategy and Consumer Research at NCL and has held a variety of leadership roles, including Senior Vice President of Strategy and Corporate Development for NCLH; President of NCLH China, during which he established local operations ahead of the launch of Norwegian Joy; Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development for NCLH; and senior advisor to the CEO of Prestige Cruise Holdings.
Prior to joining the company, Herrera was founder and managing partner of Eastside Financial Group, a private investment firm. Earlier in his career, he was Vice President at Sanford C. Bernstein, where he advised high-net-worth families and endowments on financial matters, Vice President of Marketing, Finance and Reinsurance for Markel Corporation, and an investment banker at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in the Financial Institutions Group.
Herrera proudly served in the U.S. Army National Guard in Florida, Texas, and New York. He has a B.B.A. from Stetson University and an M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
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Are you surprised that Frank J. Del Rio is retiring as NCLH president and CEO? What are your thoughts on his successor, and on NCL’s new president? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!