November 3, 2014 -
I will be very sad to see our President and CEO Gerry Cahill retire at the end of this month. Now some may be thinking that it’s the sort of thing that an employee with a Facebook and blog read by many thousands of people has to say in public………… but I genuinely mean it.
During his time in the big chair, Gerry had some challenges for sure, including a leviathan of a recession to maneuver through and, of course, the incidents on the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph.
Through it all Gerry was there. I remember how I personally saw him carry guests’ suitcases from deck 7 to the gangway on deck 0 when the Carnival Splendor arrived into San Diego –something he repeated on the Carnival Triumph. The anguish and care he showed every single minute anything challenging happened was absolute and anyone who says different truly does not know the man at all.
There is a side to Gerry that I have seen over and over again through my time on stage with him, my interviews with him and my personal time with him and I wanted to share those thoughts with you. I saw the complete concern and care he had for all of you, our guests. Gerry also showed right from the moment he took the position of CEO that the well-being and motivation of his most valuable assets, his employees, was something he took very seriously.
And in a tough economic climate that Gerry inherited this made total sense. Like all CEOs, not every decision he made was greeted with cheers from some of you. But his skills and his drive and his belief that Carnival was and is the best cruise line in the world made for competitiveness, sustainable growth, investment in much of the fleet with the Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades and the continuing affordable prices you will pay for your next brilliant Carnival cruise vacation.
Gerry is strong-willed and he always talks a lot about the importance of his team. Some of you may think that this is some Heald spin but his colleagues will confirm it – Gerry is devoted to 360-degree feedback from his shoreside and shipboard staff. He also reads what you have to say here and on my blog with your feedback being extremely influential.
Gerry and I had some fun times on water slides, on stage and we faced some challenging times together. I remember when we delivered the Carnival Dream, my first real up close and personal meeting with Gerry. We were in the shipyard in Italy and I was about to have lunch with Gerry Cahill and the Fincantieri executives.
Well ……… I had no idea what to wear. We were still in the final stages of getting the ship ready for delivery and I didn’t have anything overly smart to wear for the lunch and the following press meeting and tour and besides I had no idea what everyone else would be wearing. But I was about to eat lunch with our president and CEO ……………what the hell do I wear?
If I wore a blazer and shirt and dress pants and everyone else was dressed casually I would be perceived as a kiss arse and if I decide to wear casual attire and showed up in sweat pants designed by Omar The Tent Maker and a T-shirt with more X’s in the label than a Latvian porno movie…… and Mr. Cahill is clad in a Giorgio Versacamani suit……I would be on the next flight home for sure.
It was a dilemma. So I called my wife for advice and Heidi said, “Why not call Gerry before you eat lunch and ask him what he is wearing.” Oh yes, I can see that now can’t you?
“Hello Gerry, it’s John…..John …..John Heald….… senior cruise director……you know…the blogger………..yes, the fat one. Sorry to bother you Gerry but I wondered what you were going to wear for lunch.”
Well I need not have bothered because I can honestly say that Gerry is as down to earth as you could possibly imagine a CEO could be. He was dressed for that lunch as he often is, in a pair of chinos and open neck shirt. Often when we did announcements on stage and press occasions together he would decree these occasions “no tie zones” ………brilliant.
I know people at the top of the Carnival Corporation & plc will be sad too to see him go and despite many conversations and an offer of me becoming Gerry’s personal assistant and to dress in short skirts and high heels every day, Gerry will leave Carnival and spend quality time with his wife and daughters who I know he loves unconditionally.
He leaves behind a cruise line that thanks to his hard work and your support continues to shine brightly and every time you enjoy any of our Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades, think of Gerry and every time you walk into a RedFrog Pub think of Gerry and raise a glass of ThirstyFrog Red and toast the man who all of us will miss, a man who simply wanted you to have the……… best of times.
Thanks for the memories Gerry, enjoy your retirement and never forget…………a fat bloke in socks who beat you down the racing slides on the Carnival Dream.