FIU Business Now Magazine
FIU Alumna Cruises to the Top

FIU Alumna Cruises to the Top

By Karen-Janine Cohen

Last December, Andrea DeMarco (MSF ’03) was named president of Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a luxury line of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NYSE: NCLH). She is the first woman to lead the cruise brand and will oversee the launch of Seven Seas Grandeur in November 2023.

The new ship is all about an unrivaled luxe experience, from on board the ship to destinations, and no one knows the ins and outs of cruising like DeMarco. In fact, it was a vacation cruise that opened her career path.

DeMarco, born and raised in Palm Beach, Florida, went to college at Florida State University, where finance captured her interest, and she returned to South Florida after earning her bachelor’s degree. DeMarco – friendly and outgoing – decided the hospitality industry would be a good fit, so she took a revenue management job with a car rental firm. Then came the Caribbean cruise.

"It gave me a very different perspective, when you are the person bringing in the revenue."

– Andrea DeMarco

“I fell in love with the experience, enjoying the ship and seeing so many islands,” she said. “It was amazing, and I felt more people should know about it.” She decided to switch sectors.

That was easily accomplished, as revenue management is a very transferable skill. A global cruise line snapped her up, and she rose to senior analyst, focused on corporate finance from a global perspective.

Meanwhile, she began the FIU Business Master of Science in Finance (MSF) program, mulling pathways to leadership positions. “I was gathering the skills that would let me jump into that kind of role,” she said. After the program, she switched to a sales job to understand diverse aspects of the cruise industry.

“I didn't want to get pigeonholed,” she said. DeMarco knew the change would be a challenge: She had no contacts on that side of the business, but the experience was invaluable. “It gave me a very different perspective, when you are the person bringing in the revenue.”

After finishing at FIU, a client persuaded her to explore a sales opportunity with Norwegian Cruise Line. During the interview, DeMarco was asked where she saw herself in five years. She mentioned her MSF and that she was interested in investor relations. At that point, the interviewer stopped the meeting and left the room to consult with her CEO. On returning, they asked if DeMarco would have any interest in starting the company's investor relations department. Six weeks later, she joined C-suite executives on Norwegian's IPO roadshow.

“I never envisioned I'd be part of a bell ringing at the New York Stock Exchange,” she said. In September 2021, she was named chief sales and marketing officer at Regent Seven Seas Cruises.

She's taken dozens of cruises, exploring the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Finland, the Galapagos Islands and Alaska. Later this year, she will embark for Japan. When asked about her achievement strategy, she advised risk-taking. “One of the most valuable lessons I learned is, if you want to grow, you need to push yourself outside your comfort zone.”