Right Staff Culture at Cruise Whitsundays


Cruise Whitsundays is one of Australia’s premier Marine Tourism Operators, taking people into the postcards they’ve dreamt of visiting. Established in 2004, Cruise Whitsundays operates Day Cruises and is the only Resort Connection service for the island resorts scattered throughout the 74 Whitsundays Islands.

The company has substantially expanded over the past 12 years, with the most rapid growth occurring since the 2012 acquisition of a long-established competitor. In 2014, they moved to their purpose built Maritime Terminal at Port of Airlie and in 2016 became part of the Experience Australia Group, which is comprised of Great Southern Rail, Rottnest Express and now Cruise Whitsundays.

Building and maintaining the right staff culture is of strategic importance for Cruise Whitsundays.  The company has developed and maintained effective recruitment, retention and employee pathways by recruiting people who are proud and passionate about the Whitsunday region and are eager to have a career in Marine Tourism. They recruit for attitude (positive, environmentally conscious) first and foremost and then provide resources and support for staff through training and recognition programs.

The company have hired mature professionals who are looking for a sea change in both their personal and working lives and have engaged students to acquire and expand on their skills through Work Experience (WE) blocks offered in their marine, maintenance and reservations teams. This valuable experience assists students in their transition from school to work life as they gain an insight into the nature and diversity of the Marine Tourism Industry.

“Cruise Whitsundays is delighted to be a recognised as an Employer of Choice Awards in the 2017 Australian Business Awards. Our staff are a huge asset to the business.

We are all about providing exceptional service, quality products and unparalleled experiences and our passionate staff create the magic in our guests experience.” Stacey-Leigh Messenger, Human Resources Manager, Cruise Whitsundays said.

Cruise Whitsundays has developed several internal training courses – improving productivity, staff confidence, commitment and increasing staff awareness of safety issues such as confined spaces training. Safety courses along with the internal customer service program, ‘the CRUISE Way’, give staff the tools and knowledge they need to identify hazards in the workplace and how to meet customer service expectations.

The CRUISE Way training teaches all staff to Communicate, act with Reliance, Understand, Investigate, be Sincere and Exceed guest expectations. Their internal training courses allow staff to confidently perform their work, with the expertise on how to perform their duties to the Cruise Whitsundays standards. Resulting in a more engaged, focused and productive workforce who are loyal and committed to providing their guests the best experience.

Another comprehensive course that has been developed is the ‘Cruise Whitsundays In-Water Training Program’. This program teaches staff about the risks associated with in-water activities and how to manage those risks as well as educate them on how to deal with emergency situations when providing in-water activities.

They make observing and engaging with their staff part of the experience for guests, all staff mentioned through Trip Advisor and other social media platforms are rewarded at their quarterly team meetings.

The ‘Extra Mile’ quarterly awards program also recognises the achievements and great performance of staff who deliver service ‘the CRUISE Way’. These awards are peer nominated and presented at the quarterly staff meetings which further engages all staff in the process.