Bruce Nierenberg resigned from his position as Orient Lines executive vice president after being placed on furlough, along with 10 other full-time employees, the fledgling company said on Monday.
Wayne Heller, Orient's president and CEO, said the worldwide economic crisis prompted the furlough, which represents less than 3% of Orient's combined shoreside and shipboard staff and crew. Heller said that the furloughs would allow the line to cut expenses without impacting operations.
Nierenberg was appointed executive vice president in late July, and given responsibility for product development and worldwide marketing and sales.
In an interview days before his resignation, Nierenberg said that the economy was a huge challenge for the cruise industry and Orient.
"I'm not sure where this will end up as far as the demand for vacations," he said. "I'm not sure we've seen the worst part. It will be a very difficult last quarter for everybody as people are retrenching and changing the way they live. When you sift that down through millions of people, the impact of that is enormous."
"We're certainly not full," Nierenberg added about Orient. "It's been difficult for people to make commitments on vacations next year. Under those circumstances, we're pleasantly surprised. I think a lot of that comes from the loyalty of the Orient Lines market out there. ... But you don't know how well you do until after the first of the year and you see the second surge."
Nierenberg was president of Delta Queen Steamboat Co. from 2003 to 2006, executive vice president of Norwegian Cruise Line from 1996 to 1997, president and CEO of Costa and American Family cruise lines from 1992 to 1994 and founder and partner of Premier Cruise Lines from 1983 to 1991.