Micky Arison is to stand down as chief executive of Carnival Corporation, it has been announced.

The cruise giant revealed it is to split the roles of chairman and chief executive, with Arison remaining as chairman and Arnold Donald taking over as chief executive.

Donald has served on the company’s board for the past 12 years, and will take on the new role on July 3.

Arison became chief executive in 1979, when the company owned just three ships, before growing it to become the world’s largest operator with a portfolio of brands including P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Lines.

In a statement, he said: “I have been discussing this with the board for some time now and feel the timing is right to align our company with corporate governance best practices and turn over the reins after 34 years as CEO.

“Arnold is an exceptional professional with extensive experience in organisational leadership who will bring a fresh perspective to the company.  I have come to value and rely on his judgment and insight during the 12 years he has served on the company’s board and I am very confident in his ability to move the organisation forward.”

He added, “As chairman, I will still be working closely with Arnold to ensure a great future for all our stakeholders.”