As She is SVP and Managing Director Responsible for the operations and overall management of Disney Cruise Line, including its fleet of five ships and the private island of Castaway Cay.
DCL is part of Disney Signature Experiences led by President Thomas Mazloum, whose responsibilities also include Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, National Geographic Expeditions, Golden Oak and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa.
New GM role
With Mazloum at the helm of this expanded portfolio, the new GM role at DCL was created last September. Siskie leads more than 7,000 cast and crew as she drives performance and ensures that strategic goals in the areas of economics, operations, safety, sustainability, guest service and cast/crew are met.
Previously, she was Chief Commercial Officer at Disney Signature Experiences. Siskie has been with The Walt Disney Co. for 28 years, since joining the year before DCL was founded in 1995. This enabled her to get involved in the cruise business in a variety of ways right from the start.
She spent most of her time in sales and marketing. In her most recent role, Siskie was also responsible for contact centers, pricing, revenue management teams and delivery.
Talent trumps experience
“One of the wonderful things about working for Disney is that there are so many opportunities,” Siskie said aboard the three-day Disney Wish christening cruise. “I think I’ve had a new role every three or four years for the last 28 years, so you have an opportunity to learn a lot and step into roles where it’s a journey and you have an opportunity to learn along the way .
“We are a talent versus experience company. So even if you’ve never done something before, if you have the perceived ability [you get the opportunity] … I think that’s unique and a really nice aspect of the company.’
Expansion of the cruise market
Siskie sees Disney Wish expanding the cruise market.
“We are first and foremost an entertainment company. We are a Disney vacation experience. And then we are also a cruise line,” she explained. “When we think of families who are here for the first time, the idea of sailing with Disney offers them comfort. They may not have traveled before, but they know what to expect from Disney.”
So the entire fleet is helping to build the cruise market, but “The Wish is going to amplify that a little bit,” Siskie said. “We’ll be bringing a lot of attention to the brand with the new ship, focusing on how we’ve expanded experiences and found new, exciting ways to bring the brand to life onboard Wish.
“We know our guests are going to love it, so this will help with word of mouth and drive demand for family cruises. That helps us all. It’s helping us across the fleet and helping to build the travel consultant business.’
About half of DCL customers are new to cruising, and many return.
Along with the excitement of a new ship, the added Star Wars and Marvel Entertainment features should also cast a wider net on the market. This includes the Marvel Super Hero Academy and Star Wars: Cargo Bay at the Oceaneer Club for kids ages 3-12, the Worlds of Marvel Restaurant with its show Avengers: Quantum Marvel, and the adults-only Hyperspace Lounge themed on the Star Wars films is aligned.
More Star Wars, Marvel coming on the next ships
“When Disney Cruise Line started, some of these brands, these stories, weren’t part of the Disney family. That’s why designing the Wish was so much fun and exciting, because we had this embarrassment of the riches and the choices we could make,” Siskie said.
“So we’re glad we’re designing three ships instead of just one. We can do more of that and make additional, maybe different decisions on the next two. The new intellectual property helps make this ship feel fresh, new and fun.”
The women of Disney Wish
Siskie has had a prominent role in launching Disney Wish, along with Women like Barbara Bouza, President of Walt Disney Imagineering, who led the creative and engineering team that brought the ship to life. Others were instrumental in Walt Disney Imagineering Laura Cobo, Portfolio Creative Executive, who led the design work; Claire Weiss, creative director who served as lead interior designer; and Sachi Handke of Disney Wish’s creative portfolio, a member of the show’s design and production team.
Some of the officers on board include Cruise Director Ashley Long, Hotel Director Lisa Picket, Environmental Officer Catalina Jaques, First Officer Kate Hubbert, Second Officer Ana Acosta Alvarez, and Third Officers Helen Sims and Nicola Zimney.
According to Siskie, “Women have traditionally been underrepresented in the maritime industry. In recent years we’ve started to see real change and I’m pleased to say that Disney Cruise Line has played a role in increasing the proportion of women in this industry.’
30% of the Wish crew
Women make up approximately 30% of the Disney Wish crew, beating the industry average of 19% as determined by the Cruise Lines International Association.
“As a woman and a leader, I am deeply proud of the role our female cast and crew members played in the launch of Disney Wish and the commitment our company made to making that change happen,” Siskie continued, adding As the fleet grows, she looks forward to seeing women play a “significant role” in DCL’s future.