Azamara Cruise

Orlando Ashford Named Executive Chairman of Azamara

It wasn’t a long hiatus from the cruise industry for Orlando Ashford. The former President of Holland America Line stepped down from the company in May of 2020 after six years at the helm, but the news today is he’s back operating a cruise line! 

Sycamore Partners, the private equity firm that recently purchased Azamara from Royal Caribbean, announced that Orlando Ashford has been appointed as the incoming Executive Chairman of Azamara. The firm announced the hiring in a press release this morning. Ashford signed on with Sycamore Partners last September as a strategic advisor.

“We are pleased for Orlando to take on this role as Azamara embarks on its next chapter supported by Sycamore Partners,” said Stefan Kaluzny, Managing Director of Sycamore Partners. “Orlando brings significant leadership experience as well as specific expertise in the cruise and travel industry, making him well-suited to serve as Azamara’s Executive Chairman.”

RELATED: Orlando Ashford Stepping Down as President of Holland America Line 

“I am thrilled to be appointed to the role of Executive Chairman at this exciting time for Azamara, having long admired the business and the brand,” said Ashford. “I believe Azamara is uniquely positioned in the industry, and I look forward to executing on our shared vision for growth. Together with the Azamara team, we’ll focus on offering Azamara’s loyal customers more of what they have come to know and love.”

Carol Cabezas, the newly appointed President of Azamara, cited Ashford’s passion for the industry as an important part of his hiring. 

“I look forward to working with Orlando, who has equal passion for the cruise industry and the very special product Azamara offers,”  she said. “With the recent news of a planned addition to the fleet, Orlando will bring perspective that will support expansion of the brand while maintaining and growing the unique programming and itineraries beloved by guests and travel industry partners.”

Prior to working for Azamara and Holland America Line, Ashford was President of the Talent Business Segment for Mercer, the global consulting leader in talent, health, retirement and investments. Previous to Mercer, he served as Senior Vice President, Chief Human Resources and Communications Officer of Mercer’s parent company, Marsh & McLennan Companies. He’s also worked for Coca-Cola, Motorola, Ameritech and Andersen Consulting in his career. 

The hiring of Orlando Ashford is another splash made by Sycamore Partners, who’ve wasted no time getting ready to take over Azamara in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, the private equity firm reached a deal with Carnival Corporation to purchase Pacific Princess, bringing Azamara’s fleet to four ships.