Cruising Press Releases

Hornblower Group Promotes Exceptional Senior Talent to New Roles

Hornblower Group Promotes Exceptional Senior Talent to New Roles, Further Elevating Its Leadership Team

Adam Peakes Promoted to President; Frank Dunsford Rejoins Company as Chief Financial Officer; Francesca Merlino Promoted to Chief Marketing Officer; Phil Anzai Promoted to Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development; and Melissa Gunderson Promoted to Senior Vice President of Global Communications and Brand


New York, NY (October 16, 2023) – Hornblower Group announced today the promotions of several key members of its leadership team, signaling a strategic move towards reinforcing its commitment and dedication to further building the organization as a global experiences and transportation leader. As Hornblower Group continues to evolve, the decision to promote from within its deep bench of talented leaders supports the company values of investing in its people as a vital part of ensuring Hornblower’s continued success.


“These changes within the leadership team represent a significant milestone for Hornblower Group as we forge ahead in working toward our company’s ambitions goals,” said Kevin Rabbitt, Chief Executive Officer for Hornblower Group. “I have full confidence that this group, with their impressive backgrounds and extensive industry knowledge, will significantly contribute to supporting our company’s overall business strategy and lead us toward a successful future. We continue to remain focused on elevating our global portfolio of offerings, while exploring new and innovative ways to build on our standard of excellence.”


The updates to the senior leadership group include, Adam Peakes, promoted to President. As President, Peakes will oversee day-to-day operations of Hornblower’s divisions and build on his demonstrated ability to lead teams and effectively execute projects. Peakes has served as CFO for Hornblower Group for the past two years, helping to transform the business and shaping a new vision for the future of the company. Prior to joining Hornblower Group, Peakes served as the CFO for both Merichem Corporation, a large private industrial services company, and Noble Corporation, one of the largest privately traded offshore drilling contractors in the oil and gas industry.


Peakes, shared his excitement for the new challenge and his vision for the company’s future. He commented, “I am truly thrilled to build on the great foundation that Hornblower Group has already established and ensuring that we continue to deliver the best possible experiences and services to our guests and partners. In my new role, I have set ambitious goals for the coming year, including expanding our market presence, driving efficiencies across our portfolio of businesses and fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation. I foresee Hornblower Group entering the new year with renewed vigor led by this esteemed team of established leaders who are all deeply invested in both our business and company culture.”


Frank Dunsford will also rejoin Hornblower Group as Chief Financial Officer. Dunsford previously spent over three years with Hornblower Group, working with the leadership team to support Hornblower’s long-term direction and overall management. Dunsford will provide strategic financial insight,  support growth plans and drive value creation while overseeing all financial and accounting matters related to the company. Dunsford comes from a background in private equity-backed companies and public companies, driving value creation in M&A acquisition, integrations and change management initiatives, including spending more than 18 years with large scale firm KPMG.


Francesca Merlino has been promoted to Chief Marketing Officer. In this position, Merlino will lead Hornblower’s marketing, brand, communications, revenue optimization, digital, and data strategy. Merlino first joined Hornblower Group in 2020 as the VP of Integrated Marketing and Consumer Insights. Merlino will build upon her strong foundation as an accomplished marketing and analytics leader with expertise in digital innovation, data transformation and strategic insights.  Merlino’s marketing background spans more than 15 years including driving marketing strategy for iconic brands and esteemed institutions such as the Madison Square Garden Company and Guggenheim Museum in New York City.  In this new role, Merlino will continue to shape the future of Hornblower’s world-class marketing group in the ever-evolving digital and technology landscape.


Additional senior leadership promotions include Phil Anzai as the SVP of Strategy and Business Development. In this position, Anzai will be responsible for driving strategic growth efforts and enhancing performance across the company. He will continue to lead the contact center, procurement, partnership, Salesforce and project management teams, ensuring alignment with strategic efforts across the businesses.  Anzai has more than 10 years of travel industry experience, with previously coming from McKinsey & Company as a leader of strategy, customer experience and margin improvement engagements for travel clients.


Rounding out the leadership team, Melissa Gunderson has been promoted to SVP, Global Communications and Brand. In this position, Gunderson will continue to lead the global strategy for internal and external communications, social media content and will now oversee all brand and creative. Gunderson joined Hornblower Group in 2020 with a more than 15-year career delivering strategic and creative communications campaigns for distinguished live events and legacy brands in the entertainment and sports industries.


Horn blower Group offers guest with world-class offerings which include water-based experiences, land-based experiences, overnight cruises and experiences and ferry and transportation services across 114 countries and 125 U.S. cities as it serves more than 30 million guests annually.