Paul Clifton - BSc (Hons) Cruise Management graduate

Current employer: Carnival UK

Current job title: Senior Rotations Planner

Current location: Southampton

“Studying at Plymouth assisted me in improving my organisational, social and, of course, academic skills, but overall it helped me to ‘grow up’ from my college years until the end of my university years. As I found when working at sea, it’s a big world out there.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

Since graduating my career has gone full circle; I always wanted a career at sea on some of the world’s leading cruise ships. After graduating, I swapped Plymouth for the high seas and started work as an Assistant Hotel Manager sailing around the Mediterranean before setting off on a round-the-world cruise. Shortly after completing a few contracts with P&O Cruises, I was offered a promotion to Front of House Manager based around Europe in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. 

Has your career path changed since graduation?

My career started to change when I was given the position of Crew Manager, responsible for looking after the immigration arrangements, crew embarkation/disembarkation and payroll of all crew members on board – sometimes up to 800 crew. I took the decision to leave the sea in the summer of 2014 after being offered the chance to assist with a project within the Fleet HR Services team in Carnival UK’s head office in Southampton. Shortly after I joined the Crew Scheduling team and now look after scheduling and planning the future work patterns of all food and beverage officers and the inventory/stores teams on all 11 ships within the P&O Cruises and Cunard fleet.

What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?

It was hard to make the decision to leave the sea – after all, I had been working at my degree for four years at Plymouth. However, looking back, it is one of the best decisions I ever made.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Working on cruise ships around the world comes with its fair share of perks – I can’t deny I enjoyed chilling on the many beaches and bars around the Caribbean during my limited free time. Working in the office has its perks also: meeting James Martin’s chefs is always a bonus… especially when they bring in free samples.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

If you are thinking about a career at sea you must be adaptable to change and not afraid of long hours, not having days off, for six months at a time. It’s a great opportunity to gain experience of the hospitality industry on a grand scale if that is what you are looking for and a great chance for new out of work experience too – driving a Segway along the beach in Barbados, stopping off for a rum punch is always going to be a highlight of your career.

If you are looking more to the crew scheduling route, organisation is key accompanied by excellent coordination skills – if you can stay on top of your coursework, you should be good at scheduling. My experience as Crew Manager also assisted as I am dealing with crew members who have been through exactly the same thing as me. It really is full circle.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Studying at Plymouth assisted me in improving my organisational, social and, of course, academic skills, but overall it helped me to ‘grow up’ from my college years until the end of my university years. As I found when working at sea, it’s a big world out there.
While at sea it was hard to stay in communication with the outside world. However, now that I am land based again I am looking forward to building on keeping links with the university and being kept up to date with what is going on.