Carnival Corporation's new strategy for distinct guest experiences

Jan Swartz discusses the how the cruise group’s recent restructure will empower its nine brands

Carnival Corporation's new strategy for distinct guest experiences

Jan Swartz has embarked on a new role as Carnival Corporation’s executive vice president of strategic operations

By Michele Witthaus |

Carnival Corporation underwent a comprehensive restructure in June 2023, resulting in the dissolution of the Holland America Group and the creation of six new operating units.  

Former Holland America Group president Jan Swartz has embarked on a new role as Carnival Corporation’s executive vice president of strategic operations, which sees her leading strategy and innovation, external affairs, corporate marketing, and destination development across all its brands. In addition, she is overseeing its global ports and destination development functions, as well as Alaska-Yukon land operations. 

As a result of the corporate shake-up, the AIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises (Australia), P&O Cruises (UK), Princess Cruises and Seabourn brands are expected to gain greater autonomy regarding all operational matters.  

Specifically, responsibility for port and destination management has been handed back to the individual brands, with potential implications for fleet deployment, itinerary planning and port and destination management. 

“With the recent changes to our organisational and leadership structure, we removed layers between corporate and our brands,” says Swartz. “Our process to slowly unwind Holland America Group really began over a year ago, and we had been systematically shifting select shared services responsibilities from that group back to the brands to drive enhanced performance.” 

Brand leaders now report directly to Josh Weinstein, president and CEO and chief climate officer of Carnival Corporation, which Swartz says has given them “more autonomy, flexibility and speed”. The remaining shared service functions have been relocated to corporate, with the intention of generating further benefits for the brands from even greater scale.   

“By removing layers between corporate and the brands and including a direct line of reporting into Josh, the brands can operate with greater speed and responsiveness to market demands and opportunities,” explains Swartz. “It also gives them more control and accountability, which is vital to their success and their ability to own their space in the vacation market.” 

Beyond delivering greater agility around brand-specific ambitions, how does Swartz see the corporate changes playing out in the company’s overall strategy? 

“In terms of the bigger picture, the realigned structure optimises our support of the business and brands and helps to expedite the achievement of our long-term goals, as we rebuild our financial fortress and deliver shareholder value over time,” she says.  

“From a corporate perspective, the realignment created an opportunity to establish our new strategic operations function, which I’m honoured to be able to lead. Our new group brings critical teams closer together for even greater collaboration and impact as we continue pushing forward important company initiatives, while helping optimise execution at the brand level to boost our overall collective success.” 

Crucially, the new group structure will allow for greater freedom for each of the company’s cruise lines to shape product offerings to the needs of their customers. “Each of our brands offers a distinct guest vacation experience,” says Swartz. “Our new structure will allow our brands to move faster in responding to their guest and travel agent needs.” 

In her capacity as executive vice president of strategic operations, Swartz has begun the process of collecting feedback from all the brands. “After announcing our corporate realignment, I spent eight weeks on a global listening tour,” she says. “I’ve gathered great input from our talented teams on how we at corporate can best support their brand efforts and help drive company priorities even further.”  

As one of the global company’s most experienced executives, Swartz is keen to share what she has learned over the years with the current brand heads too. She adds: “My personal experience in leading several of our brands also helps inform how we will approach future collaboration across the brands. Our key priorities will be supporting the brands in driving next-level revenue generation capabilities, enhancing our destination development efforts, and increasing our engagement with many external global stakeholders.”   

This article was first published in the 2024 issue of Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Itinerary Planning for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. 

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