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Nicola Harper and Ian Benjafield Join Ambassador Cruise Line

Nicola Harper and Ian Benjafield Join Ambassador Cruise Line
28 September 2022 Samantha Anderson

Ambassador Cruise Line, the first UK cruise operator to launch in over ten years, has recruited Nicola Harper for the newly-created role of Head of Distribution and Ian Benjafield as Head of Communications as it expands its commercial team. Nicola will report into Chief Commercial Officer, Phil Gardner, with Ian reporting into Gordon Nardini, Chief Marketing Officer.

Nicola joins the premium-value cruise operator on 10 October 2022 and will assume leadership of the Ambassador trade team. She will work closely with Head of Reservations, Dave Eastwood, on a transition plan for the management of the contact centre through October before Dave takes on a new role as Head of Inventory and Trading, also reporting into Phil Gardner.

She brings more than 15 years’ travel industry experience to the role covering ancillary products, tour operations, bed banks and homeworking, working closely with both trade and contact centre teams.

Nicola joins from Aquilium Travel, where she held the position of Head of Operations and Strategy. She embarked on her travel career as a Senior Retail Manager at TUI UK before moving to Attraction World as National Account Manager. Subsequent roles include Trade Partnerships Manager at Thomas Cook and Head of Sales at Beds With Ease.

“I am delighted to welcome Nicola to Ambassador in the newly-created role of Head of Distribution,” says Phil Gardner. “As brand awareness and interest in our premium-value product continues to grow, our focus on creating and fostering trade partnerships has never been so important to us. I look forward to working with Nicola as we continue to develop a brand and a business that stands tall in the UK cruise market.”

Ian Benjafield joined the business on 19 September 2022 as Head of Communications with responsibility for corporate, consumer and internal communication. He has more than 25 years’ experience in the travel industry, working across destination, tour operating, airline, retail, cruise and hotel comms. Previous roles include senior positions at brands including Disneyland Paris, TUI UK, Thomas Cook and Travelodge, and agency-side travel PR at Finn Partners.

Ian will be working alongside Rooster PR, who were appointed as Ambassador’s PR Agency in August 2022 following a pitch process. Rooster PR has been tasked with handling media relations, press trips, thought leadership and creative campaigns for Ambassador.

Gordon Nardini says: “As Britain’s newest cruise line, we have so much to say. We know our guests, trade partners and media want to hear from Ambassador about our company developments and the great experiences and memories we are creating on board. The appointment of Ian, with his varied experience and deep understanding of the travel PR landscape, comes at a pivotal time for the company as we continue on our current growth trajectory and look to share our story more widely. With the support of Rooster PR, Ian will also be key to the launch of Ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, to the market in May 2023.”


For further press information, please contact:
Sam Davis | Charlotte Wright | Emma Arthurs
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0)203 440 8924
E: [email protected]

About Ambassador Cruise Line:
Ambassador Cruise Line is a brand-new premium-value cruise line. It is the first new British cruise line to be launched since 2010, offering no-fly cruises to the UK market.

Ambassador’s extremely experienced management team is led by Chief Executive Officer, Christian Verhounig supported by Chief Financial Officer, Matthias Seeger, Chief Commercial Officer, Philip Gardner, Chief Operating Officer, Nick Hughes, Chief Administrative Officer, Simon Weeks, Chief Technology Officer, Glynn Perkin and Chief Marketing Officer, Gordon Nardini. The Chair of the Board of Directors is Gordon Wilson who has over 30 years of experience in the global travel industry. This includes his role as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Travelport until July 2019. He is also Chair of the Board of Nucleus Financial Services, Chair of Virgin Experience Days and is a member of the Supervisory Board of BCD Holdings which owns global corporate travel management company, BCD Travel and US airports car park operator, Park’N Fly. He was previously Chair of Interactive Investor, the second largest direct-to-consumer investment platform in the UK until its sale to Aberdeen Investments in May 2022 and a Non-Executive Director of William Hill PLC until its sale to Caesar’s Entertainment in April 2021. Njord Partners LLP, London is Ambassador’s main shareholder.

In addition to having the required insurance by The Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangements Regulations 2018, Ambassador also operates a fully independently managed Trust Account where guests’ funds are deposited and only released when the cruise departs. In the event a cruise is cancelled, all guests will be offered a full refund.

Ambience is the first ship to enter the Ambassador fleet, carrying up to 1,400 guests with 789 cabins, 11 guest decks, 70,285grt and a length of 245m. She has a crew of 608 from 27 nationalities and has been upgraded to operate at IMO Tier III from her inaugural voyage, placing her amongst the top 10%-15% of cruise ships to achieve this level of environmental operation. She operates a programme of departures to multiple destinations including the Grand Round the World Cruise, Nordics, Greenland, Iceland, Canada, and the Mediterranean from her home port of London Tilbury.

Ambassador’s second ship, Ambition, will enter service in May 2023, carrying 1,200 guests in 714 cabins, 10 guest decks. She will operate itineraries from London Tilbury but will also offer cruises from six UK regional departure ports including Newcastle, Dundee, Liverpool, Belfast, Bristol and Falmouth.

Ambassador is based in Purfleet, Essex.

For more information: