BU alumnus Andy Stuart is celebrating 30 years with Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), where he has progressed from a UK-based sales role to becoming the company’s President and CEO.
Andy graduated from Dorset Institute of Higher Education with a BSc (Hons) in Catering Administration in 1986. Keen to enter the tourism industry, while at Bournemouth he spent a year’s placement with Hilton Hotels where he was inspired to follow a career in sales. After graduating he took up a series of roles with major hotel groups, before a chance encounter led to an opening with NCL. He said: “I didn’t really know anything about cruising at the time, other than the fact that it had an image as a fairly traditional holiday choice for older people. Nevertheless, I took on the challenge and began to build up our travel agency business in the UK and then across Europe.”
Andy’s career has grown with the business. In his 30 years with NCL he has been involved in managing operations, sales, revenue management and marketing. In 2015 he became Chief Operating Officer, before taking up his current role two years ago. He said: “When I started, the cruising industry was really in its infancy. Operators ran long cruises for an older clientele – the idea of short ‘fun and sun’ cruises for a younger crowd was relatively new. The scale of operations has also increased significantly. Thirty years ago we operated five ships, each carrying between 700 and 2,000 people. Today you could almost fit almost all of those berths into one of our big new ships, and our fleet totals 16.”
The scale of growth and innovation makes the cruising industry a popular choice for graduate roles. Andy explains: “There is a lot more growth coming and that means more opportunity for employment. Across the industry there are more than 100 new ships on order and the UK cruising market continues to be very vibrant. Cruising is a complex business, combining hospitality, customer service, entertainment and a lot of operational and logistical management. That means we need graduates with all sorts of skill sets, who can support us on board as well as in land-based roles. We have responsibility for our customers’ complete holiday experience, which is a big challenge but incredibly rewarding.”
To help inspire the next generation, Andy returned to BU in October to share his experiences with current students. Reflecting on his own career, Andy said: “I didn’t set out to be the CEO of an organisation. At every stage of my career, the next step has felt daunting. But it’s only by taking on new challenges that you learn you can do it, and that gives you confidence to take the next step. I’d like to say that I have always been full of self-belief and confidence, but in reality that hasn’t been the case.”