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Pictured: Deborah Natansohn

The Roles of Women in Cruising
The tradition of going to sea was once considered solely a male preoccupation. Though ships have traditionally been named after women and refered to as "she," we
have been led to believe that it was once considered bad luck to have a woman onboard a ship.

Definitely not anymore! In the last twenty years several women have emerged as key figures in the cruise industry. The cruise lines now make concerted efforts to factor the wants, needs and desires of women cruisers into the design of new ships and the cruise experience itself.

A great example of strongly intelligent women in cruise line management is the top team at Cunard Lines. Cunard was the first line to appoint a woman as president of any cruise line, when Pamela Conover took over the reins in 1998. She came just in time to take charge of one the most important ship building projects in modern cruise history, that of Queen Mary 2, which launched in 2004 as the largest passenger ship in the world at the time.

It is significant that during the design, building and launch of Queen Mary 2, Pam's management team was comprised almost completely of women. On her team as vice president of sales was Deborah Natansohn, a beloved lady who in 2004 became president of Seabourn Cruises, and sadly passed away too early in life less than a year ago. Based on her work on Queen Mary 2, Deborah was named Travel Executive of the Year by the travel trade.

Deborah wrote this article for CruiseMates just about a year ago to this day. We were honored to run it. The Yachts of Seabourn: The Best Things in Small Packages.

Today, Pamela Conover is the president of Seabourn Cruises, and Cunard has a new lady President & Managing Director: Carol Marlow.

Another key woman in the cruise industry is Vicki Freed of Carnival Cruise Lines, one of the most well-respected and well-liked women in the industry. Her title is Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Carnival, but she is known as being a woman who knows something about everything when it comes to cruising.

When Vicki started with Carnival, about 1.4 million people cruised every year. Today that figure has grown over 10 times, yet Vicki is just as accessible today as she has ever been. Incredibly bright and quick on her feet, Vicki never forgets a name or face and will give anyone a moment of her time. Vicki also served as president of CLIA - the marketing group representing all of the major North American cruise lines.

Royal Caribbean has several key women in major positions. Lynn Martenstein has been Vice President of Corporate Communications with the company for over a decade, and she has been instrumental in creating and promoting Royal Caribbean as a top cruise line for families and active young people. She has won both an Emmy Award and a Clio (advertising) Award, and works in civic affairs in Miami.

Royal Caribbean also has Alice Norsworthy, Senior Vice President - Marketing, who came aboard in 2005. Coming from Disney, Alice has introduced new vitality and wellness programs aboard Royal Caribbean ships, as well as a stricter smoking policy.

Actually onboard ships, Royal Caribbean named Swedish mariner Karin Stahre-Janson as captain of Monarch of the Seas on June 5, 2007, the cruise industry's first woman to serve as the captain of a cruise ship.

At Princess Cruises, the very capable and charming Jan Swartz is Senior Vice President of Customer Service and Sales. In 2005 she put together a survey that found that nurses, teachers and homemakers, three professions held predominately by women, are the most overworked professions in the United States. She followed up the survey findings with a contest to find the people who most needed to "escape completely." Forty people were subsequently found and rewarded with cruises on Princess ships, among them several foster parents, teachers, military moms and a housecleaner who donated a portion of her liver to her boss.

One obvious thing - almost all of these cruise industry women hold titles in sales and marketing. The cruise lines know who butters their bread, and it is the female heads of households who are first to suggest a cruise vacation, and who continue to select cruise vacations for the family.

And of course there are many, many more women who should be named in this article. It could almost be a book. But the main thing is that cruising is an industry that is very much in touch with its feminine side. And "that's a very good thing," as one very influential woman who also happens to be the godmother of Crown Princess, would say.

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Reader Contributed Cruise Reviews!
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- - We also wants articles by aspiring travel writers. Get More information.
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