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Azamara's Carol Cabezas advises ‘passion & perseverance’ for a cruise career

Clockwise L-R: Carol Cabezas, Bertrand Petyt, Ricardo Pijpers, Julia Siebert, John Waggoner and Dietmar Wertanzl described what makes a career in cruise uniquely valuable
Azamara President Carol Cabezas told students considering a career in cruising, ‘Passion and perseverance: we can teach you the rest’ during a webinar that saw cruise industry figures express their enthusiasm for new talent.

Added Cabezas, ‘There are very few industries where you have the kind of diversity we do’ as she outlined the comprehensive education a career in cruise brings. She said that this diversity ‘makes you a more complete individual’ and expressed the view that a job in the industry can give students a competitive edge owing to its intensity.

Learning adaptability and people skills

Dietmar Wertanzl, president and CEO, CMI Leisure shared similar sentiments, stating he had learned adaptability and people skills. ‘You also learn to solve problems, you have to be creative,’ he said. ‘You become a really good people manager…’

The remarks came during the ‘A Future in Cruise’ webinar on March 14 offering students at the start of their careers insight into what a cruise job could look like. This follows Seatrade Cruise’s recent announcement on the launch of the Tomorrow’s Talent Today programme at Seatrade Cruise Global.

Moderator Bertrand Petyt, director of fleet hotel operations, CMI Leisure said a career in cruise was useful for people wanting to become leaders, ‘You have to learn the human aspect of managing a wider variety of people, because you’re exposed to so many different nationalities.’

Having funded her studies by securing onboard contracts, Julia Siebert, VP, Columbia Blue Leisure offered pointers to young cruise industry hopefuls, advising, ‘Utilise all opportunities to network, for internships and to get experience.’ She emphasised that cruise-related roles are highly autonomous, and those who have worked in on board roles are ‘highly appreciated.’ She said, ‘If you continue to work elsewhere, it’s important to have it in your bio.’

Scholarships and internships

American Queen Voyages Chairman John Waggoner said 50% of cadets that experience working with the line become full-time employees. A marine biologist by education, he also offered details of American Queen’s scholarship programme to recruit biologists.


Waggoner went on to address some of the misconceptions associated with the cruise industry. ‘We help small towns develop businesses,’ he said, noting that the purchase of American Queen supported local companies, with estimates that the line could bring $88m of economic benefit to Memphis alone.

On sustainability, he said, ‘Twenty years ago the industry wasn’t as environmentally friendly as it now. Now it is top of mind and all the companies are out there doing cutting edge stuff.’ Siebert also informed those watching that while cruise ships represent less than 1% of the worldwide shipping fleet, it is a driving force for change in terms of sustainability.

Cabezas said Azamara had ‘been able to help out different communities’ and ‘give back to the different places that we’re visiting,’ while making efforts to educate passengers. 

Unique experiences

‘The world is a book and if you don’t travel you only read one page’ was the mantra behind Wertanzl’s motivation to enter the cruise industry. ‘The constant travelling, seeing the world… all of it comes into play… the cruise industry offers so much.’ He told those watching ‘we need you,’ and said there was a need for more mentors from within the industry.

He went on to say that a career on board a cruise ship means ‘summertime all year long,’ plus, ‘you have retail, restaurants, food and beverage operations, entertainment, spa, shore excursions… you get exposed to everything in the hospitality business. On land you don’t get this opportunity, only cruise offers this.’

Ricardo Pijpers, corporate operations manager, Viking, described a cruise career as ‘a lifestyle,’ adding it is ‘a great industry and I really hope we can inspire some people with the opportunities we can offer.’

Tomorrow’s Talent Today keynote at Seatrade Cruise Global

The 'A Future in Cruise' keynote during the Tomorrow’s Talent Today programme at Seatrade Cruise Global will capture personal career stories and skill gaps cruise lines are currently facing. Moderated by Paul Rutterford, director of operations at Viking Crew, the confirmed panellists include: Michelle Dunn, director of HR, Azamara; Mark Lockwood, chief brand operations officer, The Yacht Portfolio/Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection; Dona Regis-Prosper, GM, Antigua Cruise Port; Alex Zeitz, director of experience, international operations and special events, Virgin Voyages.