Ambassador commercial chief to step down

Ambassador Cruise Line chief commercial officer Phil Gardner is to leave the line, triggering a senior management reshuffle.

Gardner, who joined the ex-UK line two years ago, helped shape the commercial and distribution departments.

He said: “I have some priorities with my family right now and have the unique opportunity of taking some time off over the summer before seeking a new role at the end of the year. 

“These opportunities don’t come along in life very often and I am therefore very grateful to the business for helping facilitate this for the coming months.”

Gardner added: “I have found my time with Ambassador to be hugely rewarding. Within the commercial team, we have established a strong new brand, launched two new ships to market, introduced automated yield tools and significantly enhanced our distribution and digital proposition. 

“Now is therefore the time to introduce a new structure to take this forward and build on the strong foundations we’ve built to further the success of the business.” 

Ambassador confirmed that Nicola Harper, head of distribution with responsibility for the contact centre and trade teams, and Dave Eastwood, head of inventory & trading, will report to chief administrative officer Simon Weeks. 

Chief marketing officer Gordon Nardini will now report to chief executive Christian Verhounig directly.

Verhounig said: “Phil has been influential in driving and shaping our commercial structure and strategy. 

“It was always planned that he would move on from the business when the time was right, leaving us with a solid team who are focussed on building on the platforms his experience and expertise have brought to the CCO role.”

He added: “During Phil’s time with the business, we have established a strong new cruise brand with a clear marketing proposition, launched two new ships to market, strengthened our inventory management capabilities and significantly enhanced our distribution and digital proposition.

“More recently, we have made a very strong start to the ’25/’26 season with triple figure sales growth year-on-year mainly driven by trade, and we have made and will continue to make additional investments into trade distribution and the wider Ambassador trade team as we look to build on our success moving forwards.

“We extend our sincere appreciation to Phil for the passion and energy he brought to the role during his tenure, and we wish him the very best in his future endeavours.”

Gardner worked for Thomas Cook until its failure in 2019, before joining the relaunched OTA ThomasCook.com.

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