Arnold Donald’s dining boltholes

The president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, which owns Cunard and P&O, likes to do business over eggs and bacon in Miami, lamb chops in London and gyoza in New York

Arnold Donald in LT Steak & Seafood at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach, Miami
Arnold Donald in LT Steak & Seafood at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach, Miami | Image: Rose Marie Cromwell

“I travel an average of 270 days per year – to every corner of the world – for work with the nine brands and 103 ships that make up Carnival Corporation, so I really appreciate being at home in Miami. I like to use my mornings to get organised, which means breakfast meetings tend to be quick. One of my favourite Miami spots for breakfast with colleagues or investors is LT Steak & Seafood at The Betsy Hotel in South Beach. I’ll go super-decadent here – a croissant croque madame or oatmeal, eggs, bacon and decaf coffee. I need to fuel up for the back-to-back meetings that happen when I’m in the office. If I’m in LA, meeting with movie and television producers about the original content that we create with Univision, NBC and ITV, I’ll opt for a breakfast at the Montage in Beverly Hills. My order will be the opposite of that in Miami: avocado toast with a Green Giant kale smoothie, because in California they just make you eat healthy.

Southampton and London are other key places for our business and when I’m in the UK I always stay at the Four Seasons on Park Lane. I’ll take clients to Cut at 45 Park Lane: the dinner atmosphere is lively and the grilled jumbo prawns and Suffolk lamb chops are always excellent. 

In terms of our major markets, the Caribbean and more recently Cuba both figure prominently. We were honoured to be the first cruise company in 40 years to bring people to the island. We met with Cuban officials in Havana over many meals to make this happen, and one of the most important was at a Paladar, a family-run restaurant, called Ivan Chef Justo. The traditional rice and beans were outstanding.

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When I’m in LA, I’m often meeting with port-management people and personnel from our various offices, so I’ll opt for The Blvd at the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel. It has a classic Hollywood sensibility and the cocktails and the pasta dishes are always good. In Sydney, I’ll take partners to Rockpool Bar & Grill for fresh seafood. 

We work with many noted chefs and when we were looking for a partner for our luxury Seabourn line, we met with Thomas Keller at his three-Michelin-starred Per Se in New York. His signature dish, Oysters and Pearls, and the fact that we share so many core values, sold us and we are now collaborators. If I’m entertaining in New York, I’ll go to Tao: the cocktails and pan-Asian cuisine – chicken gyoza, roasted shishito peppers with yuzu sauce – make for a festive night.

In my experience, dinners are more relaxed. If I’m in my hometown of New Orleans meeting with our maritime lawyer, I’ll go to the French restaurant August. In Miami, I tend to take journalists, media partners and our team members to Byblos, a buzzing Mediterranean restaurant with a modern vibe. The crispy duck rice with date molasses is a favourite, but everything here is good. 

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One of the biggest deals I’ve done over drinks or a meal was with Wu Qiang, the chairman of China State Shipbuilding Corporation. After many hours of meetings and negotiations in an office in Beijing, we went back to the China World Hotel and had a late‑night snack of club sandwiches and Scotch. He made a commitment right then that has led to a joint venture to create the first domestic cruise line in China. We both just went all in after that night, and our first ship with them is due in 2023. This is, I believe, the beginning of what will ultimately be the world’s largest cruise market.”

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