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Cruise industry mourns destination and itinerary planning guru Michelle Lupino

Michelle Lupino 1967-2022 - a cruise career spanning 35 years
Michelle Lupino, who held senior roles in itinerary planning and shore excursions teams at UK-based cruise lines, Ambassador Cruise Line, Cruise & Maritime Voyages and Carnival UK, died Tuesday morning following a short illness. She was 54.

In a career spanning 35 years, Lupino was well-known and highly regarded by colleagues as well as numerous port, destination and service provider representatives across the UK, wider Europe and beyond.

For the past 19 months Lupino held the position of head of destination management at Ambassador Cruise Line.

Colleague, business partner and friend

Christian Verhounig, CEO, Ambassador Cruise Line, said: ‘In these moments, the overriding feeling is one of utter shock, disbelief and sadness, but I hope in time the sadness will make way to gratitude – gratitude for what a fantastic, vibrant character and valued colleague, business partner and friend Michelle has been to us all.’

Verhounig added, ‘Michelle was not only an essential member of the team that launched Ambassador Cruise Line but also a long-term friend of myself and many of her colleagues. Her extreme dedication, attention to detail and creativity have played a big part in us being where we are today, and she will be greatly missed by all at Ambassador and her many friends in the industry.’

Verhounig said he ‘understands how distressing the news of Michelle’s passing is to the Ambassador team, for whom she was a respected and much-loved colleague. We are committed to offering them our full and unconditional support in the days and weeks to come.’

Cruise & Maritime Voyages

Between 2010 and 2020, Lupino headed up the shore excursion and itinerary planning team at Cruise & Maritime Voyages rising to director.  The company ceased trading in July 2020 but keen to re-engage with the cruise industry she joined the fledgling Ambassador Cruise Line in April 2021 and was central to the brand’s launch and entry into the UK cruise market.

Jens Skrede, managing director at Cruise Europe called Lupino ‘ a lovely woman and a very competent colleague and friend who contributed a lot to our industry. She will be missed by many.’

Kate O’Hara, chair of Cruise Britain commented, ‘Michelle was as energetic person who carried out her role with such enthusiasm in an industry she loved. She was the consummate cruise professional always positive, committed and passionate, who will be remembered for her smile and infectious laugh. She was a great friend and joined us at many events.'

Carnival UK start

Lupino began her cruise career as senior shore excursion executive at Carnival UK where she worked for 15-plus years between 1994 and 2009.

Adam Sharp, director international destination development at Royal Caribbean Group who first met Lupino as a colleague at Carnival UK commented: ‘If I think of my major moments in this industry Michelle was by my side for each of them. From moving from Carnival UK to RCCL in 2010 and even the first evening I met my wife (to be), Michelle was a constant and we will be worse off without her.’

Iceland-based Liz Gammon, independent cruise consultant, who collaborated with Lupino on shore excursions for many years said, ‘Michelle was a consummate professional – unfailing in her dedication to the cruise industry in general, but in particular with regard to passenger satisfaction.’ Gammon added, ‘I learned so much from her during the time we worked together. Rest in peace, Michelle. You were taken far too soon.’

Ambassador Cruise Line shared that Lupino's family have set up a Just Giving page in her memory, with all donations going to the R.S.P.C.A.