Azamara president and chief executive Larry Pimentel has voluntarily stepped down as parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises cut its US workforce by a quarter.

Pimentel has been at the helm of three-ship brand Azamara for more than a decade, having previously headed SeaDream Yacht Club, Cunard and Seabourn.

Pimentel said in a letter to employees that he was stepping aside voluntarily to lessen the impact on others, and expressed confidence in the brand’s leadership, according to the Miami Herald.

Fain described Pimentel as “one of the finest minds and one of the very best people in the travel industry”.

Most of wider groups staff reductions are permanent layoffs, though some are 90-day furloughs with paid benefits.

A statement from the parent company of Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed that the workforce was being reduced in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said: “Earlier today we told our employees the difficult news that we are laying off or furloughing approximately 26% of our more than 5,000 co-workers in the US.

“We earlier announced the early conclusion of many crew contracts. The circumstances of the pandemic made this action unavoidable, and it hurts to part ways with so many good and talented people.”

The company’s global sailings have so far been suspended until May 11.

The job losses come less than a week after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended a ‘no sail order’ for cruise ships for at least 100 days.