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Meet the team: Gemma Wilson


As Oriana’s Hotel Operations and Retail Manager, there’s never a dull moment for Gemma Wilson. We catch her in a rare moment of peace to ask her about her work and why she loves life on the high seas

Oriana’s Hotel Operations and Retail Manager

Gemma Wilson

What does your job involve?

As Hotel Operations and Retail Manager I am responsible for all of the revenue areas, finance and customer service. My role is very diverse and involves everything from ensuring that the teams deliver the highest level of customer service to making sure that we have completed all the necessary documentation to get clearance from the local authorities in port.


What are the key challenges and rewards of your job?

The key challenges of my role are dealing with any delays or last-minute port cancellations. This requires having to be reactive and working with the teams to plan a change of port, new tours, informing the guests of the updated information or having to create a full day’s entertainment schedule and promotions for an unexpected sea day. The rewards of my role are seeing the teams working together, delivering excellent customer service, receiving positive comments from the guests and seeing the guests return time after time for the holiday of a lifetime.


Describe how your career has led to your current role

I started my career at sea 14 years ago working in shops and I knew I wanted to work my way up through the company. I spent a couple of years working on Ocean Village and the old Adonia and then was promoted to the role of Future Cruise Sales Manager. I was lucky enough to have my first posting for this role on the then new Arcadia, which was launched in 2005. From here I then went on to work on Artemis, Oriana, Aurora, Ventura and then was part of the set up team on Azura. It was from here that I had my sights set on the role of Commercial Manager. I achieved this goal in 2011 and went on to the Adonia, where I spent two years before moving back to Oriana. It’s been an exciting time.


What do you enjoy most about being on board?

I love the fact that working on board is never a normal day at the office, you never really know what situation you are going to be faced with. You get to meet so many interesting people and get to explore so many different parts of the world. I have been fortunate to do two world cruises and a South American adventure and nothing beats taking your lunch break in somewhere like Sydney or Venice!


Do you have a favourite ship?

If I had to choose one ship then I would probably say Azura is my favourite. I was part of the set up team and saw how the ship came together in such a short space of time. The team worked incredibly hard to get her ready for the launch – I would not have missed it for the world. Sailing away from the ship yard watching all of the contractors waving us off whilst we listened to Andrea Bocelli Time to Say Goodbye still gives me goose bumps.


What shore excursions would you recommend?

While I worked in the shop I took full advantage of my time off and used to escort many of the tours. Some of my favourites are Murano and Burano from Venice.This excursion takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the city and you get to see how they make the famous Murano glass and watch the lace makers at work on Burano. However, my absolute favourite excursion has to be the husky tour on the Northern Lights cruise.


Which has been your favourite destination so far?

This is always such a tough question to answer as I have been very fortunate to visit so many places. Bora Bora is one of the most beautiful places that I have been to, although my favourites will always be Barbados, Sydney and Venice.


How do you spend your free time on board?

I like to try and go to the gym when I can, although I am often distracted by the wonderful restaurants that we have on board. I also like to try to get ashore and visit some of the new ports that we visit whenever possible.


What are your three on-board essentials?

My laptop so that I can keep in regular contact with my family and friends, my blender so that I can make fruit smoothies and my Jillian Michaels fitness DVDs!


What exciting things can Oriana guests look forward to this year?

Oriana has some incredible itineraries to look forward to. She will be doing a 50-night Caribbean and America cruise in January 2016  and then she will be doing two cruises up to the Northern Lights, which are incredible. I have been fortunate enough to do these two years running and do the reindeer and husky tours, as well as see the Northern Lights. Passengers will also be able to enjoy our Sindhu restaurant later in the year, which will be a real treat.


What makes you feel proud about your work?

For me it’s about seeing the guests returning to cruise with us time and time again and treating the ship as their home and the crew as their friends. I also love working with the teams and leading them to deliver the best customer service. It’s great to see them work their way up the ranks. I also get a lot of satisfaction in the planning, organisation and delivery of the cruises.