The First Lady of Cruising Sarina Bratton has stepped down from the board of Cruise Lines International Association in Australasia after almost three decades.

The move signals big changes at CLIA as Carnival Senior Vice-President and Country Manager, Peter Little steps in as the new chairman taking over from Norwegian Cruise Line APAC Vice President, Ben Angell who has completed his two-year term as head of CLIA’s Australasian board.

Changes at CLIA’s board

Mrs Bratton has been past chairman of CLIA and is the founder of CLIA’s precursor, the International Cruise Council of Australasia which she helped to establish in 1996.

At the inaugural Seatrade Conference in Cairns in 1996, the Chairman, Chris Hayman approached me about setting up a Cruise Association in Australia to provide training for travel agents. There was one active association in the USA, and Hong Kong had recently inaugurated something similar.

I got the Constitution from the HK organisation and used that as the basis for the formal International Cruise Council Australia (ICCA) Constitution. I was the founding Chair. The whole focus in those days was training for the trade and promotion of cruise. To lift travel agents’ knowledge and ability to identify the right product for their clients,” Mrs Bratton told Cruise Passenger.

She said that training of travel agents on the promotion of cruise was one of the key contributing factors for the exponential growth of the industry which came through from 2000 onwards.

“I think it was 2013 when we moved from being a fully focused training organisation to one requiring advocacy skills. We became CLIA Australia. Advocacy has become such an integral and critical part of the CLIA organisation, whilst still maintaining our close connection to the trade, suppliers and stakeholders, ” she added.

“Sarina has been a standard-bearer for the Australasian cruise industry in ways that will have a lasting legacy for our community,” said CLIA Managing Director in Australasia Joel Katz. “She is a genuine pioneer of cruising in this part of the world, a highly respected businesswoman, and the first woman to be a cruise line founder.”

CLIA chairman Mr Little added: “Sarina has been an important voice for cruising throughout the Asia Pacific region and a tireless advocate to governments and industry stakeholders in Australasia. She has helped shape cruising in Australasia and has been integral to the creation of a strong and successful CLIA membership.”

Sarina Bratton on the ice
Sarina Bratton on the ice

Sarina Bratton’s cruise achievements

Mrs Bratton has dominated luxury expedition cruising in Australia and Asia Pacific since she created market leader Orion Expedition Cruises in 2005. She was the first female founder of an expedition shipping line. She was also founder and managing director of Norwegian Capricorn Line and Vice President and general manager Asia Pacific for Cunard Line.

She was also Australasian chairman and is now global senior strategic advisor honorary to the French luxury cruise and expedition line, Ponant.

An accomplished sportswoman, she is also a highly successful entrepreneur with a strong environmental conscience.