Sarina Bratton AM

Australia's First Lady of cruising

Sarina Bratton, considered Australia's 'First Lady' of cruising, has dominated luxury expedition cruising in the Asia Pacific region since creating market-leading Orion Expedition Cruises in 2005. Sarina was the Managing Director and first female founder of a shipping line, Orion - Australasia's only world-class, five-star expedition cruise line - until finally stepping away from Orion early in 2013 for a more stress-free life.

That hiatus didn't last long. In November 2013, Sarina was named French luxury cruise and five-star expedition operator Compagnie du Ponant's Australasian chairman and special advisor to the company's Marseilles-headquartered executive team.

As an outstanding sportswoman, Sarina won Australian medals in three different sports before injury forced an end to competition. Showing the determination that characterised her sporting career, she soon turned this disappointment into an impressive business career.

Before Orion, she was the Founder and Managing Director of the popular Norwegian Capricorn Line, a joint venture partnership between Australian interests, and Norwegian Cruise Line of Miami.

She is a highly successful entrepreneur with an outstanding ability to identify market opportunities ahead of the game, put together an effective strategy, and importantly, attract investors and lead a team of professionals through start-ups and/or change management.

Sarina has a strong environmental conscience and under her guidance, Orion's operations led to it being rated as a world leader in sustainability. In 2010, it was awarded the Global Responsible Tourism Award and is the first ship in the world to be awarded Earth Check accreditation. It won Luxury Travel Magazine's best ship, Cruise Passenger Magazine's best small ship and adventure for six years in a row and Gourmet Traveller's best cruise line for five years in a row.

Sarina has spent a lifetime in hospitality. Sarina also achieved international recognition as Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific for Cunard Line, which she grew from a sales agency operation of $300,000 revenue, through a start-up, to an operation with 33 staff and revenue of over $30 million.

Sarina's extensive CEO experience and respected business acumen have been recognised by both state and federal governments through several senior board appointments. These include the State Transit Authority (NSW), Australian Maritime Safety Authority (deputy chair), Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee (Prime Minister's nominee) and the Australian Trade Commission. She has also served as a non-executive director of Australia's former premium eco-accommodation provider, Voyages Hotels and Resorts; was the Founding Chair of the International Cruise Council Australia and Non-executive Chairman of a private equity backed Australian experiential tourism operator.

She won the 1995 Avon Spirit of Achievement Business Award, became a member of the Businesswomen's Hall of Fame in 2000 and was voted Inspiring Woman of Australia 2000 by the Australian Businesswomen's Network. She was awarded the Commonwealth Government's Centenary Medal in 2003 for her Business Leadership contributions to Australian society and, in 2006, she received the Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year Award for her entrepreneurship and vision. Also in 2006 she was recognised in the inaugural Australian Travel Innovators Award for "enhancing the way Australians, and the world, travel".

In 2008 she was awarded NSW Entrepreneur of the Year in the Services category of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Sarina is a former Director of Tourism Task Force, National Councillor for Tourism Council Australia, a member of Chief Executive Women Inc and a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Sarina Bratton talks about:

  • Sharing the dream - communicating the vision
  • Motivation and leadership
  • Start-ups - You won't get everything right, first time
  • Look and act beyond the square
  • Navigating a course through a sea of opportunity

Sarina is a superb entrepreneurial and leadership speaker with a down-to-earth and unassuming style. Audiences from all industries have much to learn from her impressive achievements as well as the challenges she has faced along the way.

Client testimonials

We were lucky enough to have Sarina speak to our global leadership team meeting recently. We were expecting to hear inspiring stories about her wonderful domestic tourism experiences with Orion and were not disappointed. However what really made Sarina’s talk even more inspiring were her personal challenges and the determination she showed to set up and sustain her business, her passion for all aspects of her business and her pursuit of excellence in all aspect of life, including supporting an individual on his Olympic journey.

Tourism Australia

You were very engaging, extremely interesting and above all inspiring. Especially the lows and highs you experienced in bringing success to your company.

AHICE Conference