Kirk Neal, a 21-year cruise industry veteran, has been named vice president of sales – eastern region for Carnival Cruise Lines, the world’s largest cruise operator.

In this capacity, Neal oversees a team of 16 business development managers in eight eastern U.S. states who provide sales and marketing assistance and training opportunities to thousands of travel agents within the region.

"Kirk is the ideal candidate for this position, possessing wide-ranging experience in all facets of the cruise industry, including the past 13 years working with our valued travel agent partners in developing new business opportunities," said Joni Rein, Carnival’s vice president of field sales. "His enthusiasm and professionalism, as well as his commitment to travel agent training, are wonderful assets to our company," she added.

Neal’s cruise industry career began as a Carnival shipboard employee, working first as a junior purser in 1987. He was soon promoted to chief purser and in 1992 was named hotel director – at the time the youngest person to hold the position in the cruise industry.

He moved shoreside in 1995, serving as business development manager for Sacramento, Calif., and was named business development director for Northern California and Northern Nevada six years later. In 2007, he repositioned to Tampa where he was responsible for sales and marketing efforts in that territory as a business development director.

Neal is a member of Carnival’s CareTeam, which responds to guest and crew emergencies, primarily medical-related situations, at various locations throughout the company’s cruising regions.

He has received several industry honors, most recently the 2007 WAVE Award as "Favorite Cruise Line Supplier Representative" by the readers of TravelAge West magazine.

Carnival is the world’s largest and most popular cruise line, with 22 "Fun Ships" operating voyage ranging from three to 18 days in length to the Bahamas, Caribbean, Mexican Riviera, Alaska, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, Canada, New England, Bermuda, Europe and South America.

The line currently has two new 130,000-ton ships on order or under construction – Carnival Dream, set to debut September 21, 2009, and Carnival Magic, scheduled for delivery in June 2011.