Midweek Interview

Life in the time of COVID-19 with Carnival Cruise Line’s Mark Richards

This week, Travel Weekly caught up with Carnival Cruise Line’s newly appointed national sales manager, Mark Richards, to find out how he’s been faring since the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

What are you reading?

I’m reading Map of Bones by James Rollins.

What are you watching?

I have a few shows on the watch list at the moment. I am currently watching the latest season of The Walking Dead, which now feels more like a documentary, and also Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

What are you listening to?

I love my podcasts, so I have been catching up on Hamish & Andy, including The Remembering Project, plus listening to Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead on Audiobook.

What are you cooking?

I’m always cooking on the BBQ. I love the art of smoking brisket; however, day to day I make a mean chilli scrambled eggs.

How are you staying fit both physically and mentally?

This has been particularly important to me over the last 20 months. The pandemic has helped give me time to reset my fitness, so I have been running a lot and also playing touch footy. I also walked the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail over a few weeks with my wife. It’s around 160 kilometres through the Lockyer Valley in Queensland.

Mental fitness is also incredibly important and I find meditation helps with this, so I try to practise at least once a day.

What’s something positive you’ve witnessed or experienced since the coronavirus hit?

I can’t believe how resilient our industry is. Despite everything that has happened over the last year and a bit, our amazing trade partners have hung in there, and every owner, manager and consultant has been amazing. They are the backbone of our industry and I can’t wait to continue working with them as we rebuild Australian travel.

What have you learned about yourself amid the crisis?

I can build a fence! I did some home renovations over the last few months and one of them was to build a 30-metre front fence. I didn’t just buy the wood – I actually chopped down the tree on my in-laws’ property, milled all of the timber using a Lucas Mill and then built a fence!

What’s your advice for others in the industry on coping with the crisis?

We have to keep hanging on and remembering why we work in this industry, which is to help our guests see and experience amazing destinations, cultures and adventures. Oh, and the beer – lots of it!

Where is your favourite domestic travel destination?

I recently returned from a personal holiday to the Queensland coast and am always amazed at how beautiful the coastline is. I managed to do a unique tour which was river drift snorkelling on the Mossman River. I have never snorkelled in a river before and it was incredible. This is why I can’t wait for Carnival Cruise Line to begin our cruises up the Queensland coast. We have some great itineraries in store!

What is the one international travel memory keeping you going through this time?

My last major holiday was a cruise through the Panama Canal back in 2019. Knowing what’s in store when we can travel again is what keeps me sane from time to time.

In 2020, I was supposed to be on a cruise through Alaska; however, I still have that to look forward to, with the bonus of some nice onboard credit for rebooking.

Where do you want to travel to once international travel restrictions ease up?

Anywhere! However, more than likely I’ll be on Carnival Spirit’s first cruise out of our brand-new cruise terminal in Brisbane. I can’t wait to sit in Serenity, our adults-only retreat, and sip some Thirsty Frog beer as I reflect on what a crazy time we have all been through.


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