Christine Duffy was rejected as a flight attendant. Now, she runs Carnival Cruise Line

When she was a teenager, Christine Duffy dreamed of being a flight attendant. But that career goal was squashed when Pan American Airways rejected her for being too short.

“This was in the ‘80s, that was a very glamorous job at an international airline,” she said. “But you had to be 5’4’’ to be a Pan Am flight attendant. And I was not!”

Duffy went on to wear many hats in the travel industry — from receptionist to CEO of a business travel company and from lobbyist in Washington to her current position as president of Carnival Cruise Line, one of South Florida’s most iconic brands. She took an non-traditional, sometimes risky path that led her to the top of the cruise industry.

Duffy took the helm at Carnival Cruise Line in 2015, overseeing consistently climbing booking numbers through 2019. Then the coronavirus pandemic hit in 2020 — the largest crisis in the history of cruising. The industry had to deal with fallout from superspreader events on ships and crew members being stranded at sea without pay.

Duffy’s Carnival Cruise Line was the first to get all of its ships running after ships were barred from sailing for over a year and then bounced back with record sales in 2022.

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