Arnold Donald is ready to pass on the baton of leadership after leading cruise behemoth Carnival Corp as its chief executive for nearly a decade.

The New York-listed owner of 91 ships announced on Tuesday, just minutes before Seatrade Cruise Global 2022’s keynote panel in Miami Beach, that he will be stepping down.

Donald, 67, will hand over the role to chief operations officer Josh Weinstein on 1 August, but he will still be among the company’s top brass as vice chairman of its board of directors.

“With my ageing and all that, I think it’s important to get a next generation in,” he said during a press conference held after the talk.

“I’ve been CEO for nine years. That’s a long time for a CEO.”

Weinstein will have plenty of operational support to do the best job possible as the new chief executive as the entire industry brushes itself off after wrestling with a two-year pandemic.

“I think there’s nothing but opportunity,” he said.

“As we make this transition, I think the company is really poised for a great return in ’23 and ’24.”

He said the company’s three biggest priorities right now are creating shareholder value, accelerating repayment of debt and giving great cruises.

Looking back at his greatest challenge as chief executive, Donald recalled a company with nine brands that were not working together for the greater good of the group.

“We were a federation, but we weren’t really a federation because we had nine independent brands,” he said.

“The number-one challenge was to get everybody together to communicate, coordinate and collaborate so that we could leverage the skills we had to create great experiences for our guests. I feel we made huge progress with that.”

He said the pandemic, as awful as it was, actually made Carnival’s nine brands work even closer together under one company.

“Right now, things are pointed in a positive direction. Everything’s coming back. We can see where we’re headed.

“I think things are great for someone new to come in with a solid foundation to build on.”

As vice chairman, Donald said he will take advantage of having more time on his hands to join boards in other industries, do some writing and work on some impact projects that hold his interest.

“And I’ve got grandkids, so I want to spend time with them,” he said. “I’m busy. I’m always busy.”