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Sunday,  July 21, 2024 10:00 AM 

Former Celebrity exec Dondra Ritzenthaler to become CEO of Azamara in May 2024

Former Celebrity exec Dondra Ritzenthaler to become CEO of Azamara in May 2024
Dondra Ritzenthaler will join Azamara as CEO in May of 2024. (File photos)
Michael Pihach

Michael Pihach is an award-winning journalist with a keen interest in digital storytelling. In addition to PAX, Michael has also written for CBC Life, Ryerson University Magazine, IN Magazine, and Michael joins PAX after years of working at popular Canadian television shows, such as Steven and Chris, The Goods and The Marilyn Denis Show.

Dondra Ritzenthaler, a former executive at Celebrity Cruises, will join Azamara as CEO in spring of next year, PAX has learned.

According to a press release issued Tuesday (Nov. 7), Ritzenthaler, formally senior vice-president of sales, trade support and service for the Americas at Celebrity, will take the reins of the small-ship cruise line in May of 2024. 

A 40-year veteran of the travel industry, Ritzenthaler, prior to her 20 years at Celebrity and Royal Caribbean, worked at American Airlines for 20 years in a number of sales and marketing leadership roles.

Until her start date at Azamara, the cruise line’s Chair, Dan Hanrahan, will provide day-to-day leadership and oversight of the team.

"Azamara provides a unique and exciting offering within the luxury cruise space, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the company into its next chapter," said Ritzenthaler in a statement. "I look forward to working with the talented team and their travel partners to better serve the customer base and grow the Azamara brand."

The news comes after Ritzenthaler announced in April that she would retire, and "recharge my batteries,” as she stated in an email to partners at the time. 

Taking up the top job at Azamara, it appears Ritzenthaler’s batteries have been recharged. 

Azamara announced two senior executive appointments on Tuesday, in fact. In addition to Ritzenthaler’s new roleAlain Ferzli will join the cruise line as chief financial officer, effective immediately.

Ferzli has more than 20 years of "significant experience driving profitable growth" in the cruise industry, Azamara said. 

He previously served as the acting chief financial officer for Virgin Voyages and in various financial leadership roles with Royal Caribbean.

"Our team has worked diligently to maintain a solid foundation for Azamara amid unique industry-wide challenges over the last several years,” stated company Chair Dan Hanrahan. “Dondra and Alain's deep knowledge of and experience leading cruise lines will support the shift of our focus to expanding our business and realizing Azamara's full potential."

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