Ted Arison, a pioneer of the modern-day cruise industry, died Oct. 1 in Tel Aviv, Israel, of heart failure. He was 75. A family tradition in shipping helped Arison gain the experience that would place him in the forefront of modern, post-war passenger cruising. The Israeli-born son of a ship owner, Arison decided to bypass a career in the industry for an engineering education. He entered the American University of Beirut at age 16, but World War II interrupted his studies. Joining the British Army, he served in Italy and Germany, attaining the rank of sergeant major.
After the war, Arison's father died, and, as the only son, Ted was asked to assume control of the family business, M. Dizengoff and Co., ship owners and general agents for several lines.
Two years later, he was back in uniform serving his native country as a lieutenant colonel during the Israeli War of Independence. In the early 1950s, the Dizengoff firm was sold to Zim Lines, and Arison operated his own fleet of cargo ships under Panamanian and Honduran flags. A depressed market, which reached its low point after the Korean War, convinced him to give up shipping entirely, and he liquidated his operation to move to the U.S.
For a 12-year period beginning in 1954, Arison embarked on a number of ventures in the air cargo industry, including a publicly traded company with a $10 million market value. In 1966, however, he chose to retire in Miami and sold his holdings to the parent firm.
But soon afterward, he gave up early retirement to assume the management of a passenger shipping company in Miami. A disastrous financial situation left that company without a vessel, and Arison called upon Norwegian ship owner Knut Kloster, whose new Sunward recently had been completed in Europe. Less than two weeks later, Arison and Kloster negotiated agreements that brought the Sunward to Miami, and thus was begun Norwegian Caribbean Lines.
The company later initiated the first packaged air fare and cruise combinations, which are a staple of today's industry. Kloster and Arison parted company in 1972, and, almost immediately, Arison entered into a financial arrangement that resulted in the acquisition of the Mardi Gras and the start of Carnival Cruise Lines.
By the time he retired as chairman of Carnival in late 1990, the company had become a three-brand line, Carnival Cruise Lines and Holland America Line
, and Windstar Cruises operating 15 ships. As the organization continued to grow, a corporate holding company, Carnival Corporation, was created in 1993. Today Carnival Corporation is the world's biggest cruise operator and operates six brands, wholly owning Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line and Windstar Cruises, with majority interests in Cunard Line, Seabourn Cruise Line and Costa Cruises. Miami-based Carnival Corp. currently has 45 cruise ships and lines that include Cunard and Holland America. It recently reported third quarter 1999 net income of $415.1 million.
Following his retirement, Arison continued to be active in the cruise business, serving as a consultant overseeing Carnival Corporation's multi-billion dollar shipbuilding program. Since 1982, Arison directed the construction of 20 new passenger ships for Carnival Corporation companies. Arison and his wife Lin were very active in philanthropic and humanitarian charities in the South Florida area. They created the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts and Miami's New World Symphony. Arison also brought professional basketball to South Florida in 1988 as the majority owner of the NBA franchise, the Miami Heat.
Shortly after his retirement, Arison's son Micky assumed the chairmanship of Carnival in 1990 on his father's retirement, and is also now managing general partner of the Miami Heat.
Arison arranged the continuation of his businesses while he was still alive. Micky will continue to head Carnival Corp. Arison designated his daughter Shari Arison-Dorsman as responsible for running the family's businesses in Israel.
In addition to his son, Micky, and daughter Shari, Arison is survived by his wife Lin, son Michael and nine grandchildren, as well as two sisters, Aviva Tamir and Rina Brawer. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the First Aliya Museum in Zichron Yaacov. Checks should be made payable to the First Aliya Museum and can be mailed to the Arison Foundation at 23 Shaul Hamelech Blvd., Tel-Aviv, Israel.