16 Jul 2015

A Job on Board a Cruise Ship Suits Charlene

News, Alumni

Bachelor of Business (Marketing and Tourism)
University of Newcastle Australia
Graduated in 2013


Imagine going on a cruise ship visiting exotic places, and making lasting friendship with people whom you have not met before. You just never know what wonderful things await you when you are on a cruise vacation. Sounds interesting? Now, Charlene will be happy to welcome you on board…

“I currently work overseas on a cruise ship, Independence of the Seas, with Royal Caribbean International, as a Guest Services Officer (GSO). We sail around the Caribbean islands stopping at different ports of call such as Falmouth (Jamaica), Cozumel (Mexico) and Puerto Rico (San Juan). My job is to help guests have a great vacation by resolving any issues they may encounter. Our aim is to anticipate their needs and exceed all expectations.”

Charlene must have developed an interest in the tourism industry at a young age. She enjoys visiting places and interacting with people. When it was time to further her education, she took up a tourism related degree in PSB Academy.  

“I looked at a number of factors such as the reputation of the universities that PSB Academy has partnered and how well known the local campus was. The selling point of my course is that the same content is taught in both the local and Australian campuses, hence the level of education is standardised. Also, my mother’s company had previously sent her to PSB Academy before to do an accounting course which she enjoyed. She was therefore supportive of my decision to further my studies in PSB Academy.”

Initially, Charlene was unsure if the Australian degree would be ‘recognised’ by industry.

“I was afraid that my degree wouldn’t be as recognised because I was studying in a local campus instead of the main campus overseas. However, that fear soon faded when I realised that the local lecturers, as well as the guest lecturers from Australia, were more than qualified.”

Satisfied with what she wanted academically, Charlene was next drawn to the student activities which she thoroughly enjoyed. With one year left to complete her studies, Charlene thought that doing it in Australia would not be a bad idea.

“My father was always supportive of my studies. We didn’t have enough money but he took out an education loan because he recognised the importance of education. When I expressed my desire to study in Australia for my final year, he supported that idea too because he knew how much I would benefit from that experience. When my family came over to Newcastle for my graduation in 2013, my father was the proudest person and he made me pose for many pictures in my graduation gown.”

Charlene was elated when she applied and got a job to work on board a cruise ship. She said that life at sea is an experience that she will treasure for years to come.   

“Royal Caribbean International hires only individuals with hospitality industry experience for the role of Guest Services Officer. After graduating, I had to work for hotels locally to gain experience and knowledge before applying online for that position one year later. Being an overseas job, it was challenging to schedule interviews that would fit both parties due to the time difference. The first interview I had was via Skype at 11 pm, Singapore time. After being accepted, I had to fulfil other tasks such as obtaining local police clearance and applying for a US work visa.”

The soft skills that Charlene gained as a student councillor were particularly relevant in her job.

“As a Student Council 2010/2011 member, I learned leadership and communication skills that helped me in my career. Through my work with my fellow student councillors, I saw the power of team synergy and I believe that a strong team can overcome any challenges. In my current job, I am always confident of taking charge of situations. With empowerment from my employer, I can often resolve issues in my workplace within the first contact.”

Spending so much time on the cruise, one wonders if she finds herself bored not being able to do her favourite things on land.

“I am currently at sea hence my hobbies would involve visiting the different port of calls and exploring the cities. My job allows me to go on many shore excursions for free and I had the opportunity to go swimming with stingrays in Grand Cayman and jet skiing in Labadee (Haiti). I also love to try out the local cuisines and national beers whenever I have the chance.”

Well, it does not sound like she is bored at all!


Article by Jeffrey Yap (Student Affairs & Industry Engagement)