2019 Pioneer Award Winner
President of Carnival Cruise Line, Class of 1979
"I was a below average student," Christine Duffy, 2019 Pioneer Award Winner, announced at the 111th Pioneer Award Ceremony in October.
" I didn't have a passion or plan of what I wanted to do after I graduated." She went on to explain how she didn't get involved in any school clubs, but had a part-time job working at the Pants Company on Frankford Ave. She also had the privilege of spending summer vacations in France, her mother's birth home.
"I had my own money...I bought a car. I was pretty independent. I was more interested in my social life than school, until her Frankford Social Studies teacher..."
Mr. Needle intervened.
He told her that he could fail her, but instead he was going to pass her, and that it was time to get her act together, because he saw great potential in her.
Back at Frankford, she never imagined herself becoming the president of a major corporation. Where you begin does not define where you can end. She explained how passion and hard work can open up unimaginable doors.
At Frankford, the only passion she could find was in travel. So she decided to become an International flight attendant. She reached the final round for becoming a Pan Am flight attendant, but was cut, because she was too short.
Never in her wildest dreams did she see herself becoming the first woman President of Carnival Cruise Line, the biggest brand of Miami-based global cruise industry leader Carnival Corp., the world's largest leisure travel company. She captains a company that sails a fleet of 26 ships, annually hosts 5.2 million guests and employs more than 40,000 people, hailing from 110 nations across the globe.
But first she had to land somewhere. Her maiden voyage in the travel industry began as a receptionist for Rosenblum Travel Agency. Then, she went to McGettigan's Travel Company, where she traveled upstream into owning equity in the company.
Needless to say, she found her passion.
Christine entered the cruise industry after being named President and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, (CLIA) where she elevated the industry’s image before consumers, regulators, industry stakeholders and the media.
She spearheaded the adoption of the Cruise Passenger Bill of Rights to enhance the industry’s commitment to passenger safety, comfort and care. She successfully managed the industry response to several high-profile crises; and consolidated a network of 15 cruise industry organizations into one global association.
This exposure took her to her next adventure in 2015, when she joined Carnival Cruise Line as the first female president, after a successful tenure as president and CEO of CLIA.
Carnival home ports its ships in North America, Europe and Australia and sails to more than 100 destinations in nearly 40 countries. In addition, Christine spearheads Carnival Cruise Line’s growing footprint and the addition of three new spectacular ships scheduled for delivery by 2022 including Carnival Panorama™ in 2019, Mardi Gras in 2020 and an as-yet-unnamed ship in 2022. Building upon its leadership position in the cruise industry, Mardi Gras will be Carnival’s most innovative ship to date, offer the first-ever roller coaster at sea and will be the first ship in North America powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG).
As part of the company’s $2 billion fleet enhancement program, ships have been refurbished to feature new onboard dining, entertainment and recreation experiences, including the recent transformation and introduction of Carnival Sunrise. Christine also supervises Carnival’s multi-million-dollar investment in its enhanced homeport and port-of-call facilities.
Under Christine’s direction, last year, Carnival opened a state-of-the-art Fleet Operations Center at its Miami headquarters that implements technology used by NASA and the U.S. Navy to monitor operations and improve real-time decision-making. Her “people first” business philosophy makes her an accessible and approachable leader as Carnival leverages its commitment to delivering safe, fun and memorable vacations to its millions of guests and growing customer base.
President of Carnival Cruise Line, Christine Duffy &
Carnival Line's Fun Ambassador, Shaquille O'Neal
Prior to CLIA, Maritz Travel company purchased McGettigan's Travel, where she became President and CEO--working a total of 20 years. Maritz Travel Company, the world’s largest corporate meeting, events and incentive travel company-- she served six years as president and CEO. In this capacity, she worked directly with a Fortune 500 corporations in the automotive, pharmaceutical, financial services and technology sectors.
Christine is a member of the board of directors of Herschend Family Entertainment, the nation’s largest family-owned operator of themed attractions, including Dollywood and Branson’s Silver Dollar City. She sits on the executive committee of the U.S. Travel Association and currently serves as its first vice chair, as well as the
Professional Advisory Board of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Christine has been a strong supporter of women’s leadership in the travel industry, leading initiatives that delivered research and programs to help women advance their careers.
Christine is also a member of The Committee of 200, an organization of the world’s most successful women business leaders that supports, celebrates and advances women’s leadership. She was recognized by Moves Magazine as a 2016 Power Women recipient for her work in serving as a role model for future generations of young women.
She has also been honored by the Convention Industry Council and the U.S. Coast Guard, among others. Christine was a member of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference class of 2018, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious public liaison program for the Department of Defense.
A Message to Frankford's Class of 2020
Christine tells Frankford's 2020 graduating class that there's nothing you can't pursue with hard work, passion and dedication. You can land in a place beyond your wildest dreams and make a difference in the world.
I began as someone who didn't want to attend college, didn't have a plan and 40 years later, became the first woman president of a billion dollar travel corporation.
Take a leap of faith, apply sweat equity and you'll find your purpose.