Whos In Charge: Bob Dickinson CEO, Carnival Cruise Lines January 31, 2005 Share 1 -- I joined what was the parent of Carnival, known as AITS, in February 1972. I joined AITS because my boss at RCA, a large conglomerate, became the president. And he hired me as his assistant. A year later I was vice president of operations and administration, and he was fired. The chief financial officer and I vied to become president. He won. About four months later, I was in his managerial knickers because the company was not doing well, and his style and mine were contradictory. So he wanted to get rid of me.And at about the same time Ted Arison had some health issues and went to the primary shareholder of AITS, Meshulam Riklis, who asked me to come down to Miami. I didnt want to go, but reluctantly I went. And my job was to sell Carnival because it had lost $8 million in a year-and-a-half, and $8 million was a lot of money. I didnt know squat about cruising. The first ship I saw was in Miami. It was the biggest ship I ever saw, and I asked, Wow, is that the QE2? It turned out to be a 5,000-ton slug of a ship.I focused on the marketing. We had one ship -- the Mardi Gras -- at the time, 1973. Its marketing position was the Flagship of the Golden Fleet. There was no fleet, it wasnt golden and Fleet is a brand of personal-care products. I saw that other cruise lines were focusing on the company name instead of the ship, with the exception of Commodore Cruises, which had the Boheme and called it the Happy Ship. I liked that ... so we changed the marketing around and started advertising that the Mardi Gras was the Fun Ship. In 1974 we cut our loss in half, and in December of that year Ted Arison bought the company from Riklis.And then he fired me.Then I spent three days getting my job back. It was very cordial: Wed meet in the morning, talk until noon; wed go to the local Howard Johnson for lunch and talk about the Miami Dolphins.In 1975 we made money, a first for the company. In the fall of 1975 Ted bought the Mardi Gras sister ship and called it the Carnivale.For Ted to buy a second ship, that was neat. Heres a guy with a marginal business that made a profit, and he spent it all on that ship. That was exciting. I knew that we had an owner who was entrepreneurial.[As for my management style], you need a sense of humor. If we start to worry about our authority, its very easy to get arrogant, and that shuts down communication. I dont like people calling me Mr. Dickinson. A lot of the crew will call me Bob or Mr. Bob. Id rather have my lungs removed without the aid of anesthesia than go down the hall without acknowledging crew members.I remember in Travel Weekly in 1975 I was quoted saying that Carnival Cruise Lines will end up with six ships, seven-day ships, all have the same price, sailing from ports around the country. And people thought I was smoking my jockey shorts. -- Edited by Rebecca TobinTo contact reporter Rebecca Tobin, send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.