What made you choose to work in the Cruise Industry?
It wasn’t something I ever thought about or planned to pursue. Many moons ago, I was working in France and one of my colleagues (Catherine Thomson) told me she had applied for a job as a Bar Waitress on a cruise ship. Before that moment, I hadn’t ever considered the possibility of working onboard, but it fascinated me and I decided to apply too.
Which Company did you work for?
My first contract was with Princess Cruises (then P&O Princess), but I have worked for several companies over the years, including Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and Carnival Cruise Line.
What was your job onboard and how long did you spend in the industry?
I started in Food & Beverage, moved to Retail, then Sports & Entertainment and eventually found my niche in Training and Human Resources. The last shipboard position I held was with Carnival Cruise Line as a Human Resources Director. I then moved into a land based/travelling role, working out of Carnival’s Head Office in Miami, assuming responsibility for the Fleet HR Operation, MLC compliance and HR investigations. In total, I’ve spent the best part of twenty years on ships!
What did you enjoy most about shipboard life?
I absolutely LOVED living and working with people from so many different countries and walks of life. On some ships there were more than 100 different nationalities. Being immersed in such a culture-rich environment helps you to learn so much about yourself and others.
I also loved the pace of life! Everything happens at super-sonic speed. No two days are the same and although there’s an element of routine, it’s nothing like the humdrum of the nine-to-five you experience on land.
The team-work and camaraderie you find onboard is incredible and, if you aren’t averse to hard work, there are limitless opportunities for growth. I spent a lot of my time studying while working, which was particularly tough, but it paid off.
There are too many great things about shipboard life to list here! I miss it a lot!
Why did you choose to leave ships?
I chose to leave when I did for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I wanted to be closer to my parents. I had spent a significant part of my life travelling and living in different countries up until that point and I wanted to spend more time with family. Secondly, I’d always dreamed of starting my own business. I’d had a business plan written for many years prior to executing it. It’s hard to leave a job you love and colleagues you adore, but – life is short and it’s pointless having dreams if you’re not going to chase them!
What job are you doing now and how did cruise ship life help you?
I own a couple of different businesses, but I’m currently working as the Managing Director of Cruise Academy. We provide maritime training and shipboard recruitment services on a global scale. Working in the cruise industry has helped me in more ways than I could have possibly imagined.
The fact that I spent a significant amount of time working on ships (from entry level positions to senior management), then transitioned to head office, then worked as a consultant in the industry and now as a business partner, means that I have a very holistic understanding of the sector and can better appreciate the unique complexities of the operation from all angles. It enables me to provide real value to our stakeholders.
Industry experience aside, ship-life has really helped me with structure and self-discipline. I dread to think where I would be now if I hadn’t found my sea-legs! As a teenager, I felt very ‘lost’ and had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life (other than travel and possibly become a doctor). Joining the cruise industry opened so many doors, gave me life-long friends and made me see the world from a completely different perspective. I’ll be eternally grateful for that.
What piece of advice do you have for anybody considering a career on cruise ships?
Research well! It’s not a job – it’s a lifestyle, and it’s definitely not for everybody! When I started in the industry, there was no social media and limited information, so I genuinely had no idea what I was getting involved in. Thankfully, it worked out for me, but there were others who were less fortunate, who invested a lot of time and money in the recruitment process and ended up absolutely hating it!
Also, regardless of where you are from in the world, DO NOT PAY A RECRUITMENT AGENCY ANY FEES to secure an interview or a job. Firstly, it’s illegal and unethical and secondly, it’s completely unnecessary. If you have the right qualifications/experience and most importantly, the right attitude, there are plenty of genuine agencies that can help – even if they are outside of your home country! Granted, things are a little slow right now due to the pandemic, but the industry will be booming again very soon. 😊
Lastly, cruise ship jobs are not just for young people. If you’re in your 40s or 50s and fancy a radical change, I strongly encourage you to look into it. It may just turn out to be the most positive, life changing experience.
Which country are you originally from and where do you live now?
I’m originally from England and I am currently in England – though I spend a lot of time in the Canary Islands (Fuerteventura specifically) and plan to make a more permanent move there as soon as possible.