Benny Weidacher grew up in the university city of Graz, Austria and, at a young age, decided he wanted to see the rest of the world. In 1983 he signed on for one contract with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and, instead, stayed with the cruise line for three years.

Benny left the ships, went back to Graz and opened his own restaurant. After more than a decade the 'fun' aspect had disappeared from the venture and, exactly eleven years, and one month from the day it opened (being Austrian Benny is very precise), he sold the property for a very good price.

He then pondered what he was going to do and reached an arrangement with his future wife. He would go back on the ships for just one contract (contracts vary in length from three to eight months) and then decide what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. The year was 1998 and… he is still on the ships.

“I went back to Royal Caribbean Cruise Line as a waiter on the brand new Vision of the Seas and shortly thereafter I was promoted to head waiter. Based on the Austrian Schilling at that time, I was making good money,” He told me. “I went home and asked if I could do one more contract and eventually she agreed.”

Upon returning to the ship he was promoted to Food and Beverage Director with the added perks of his own cabin, free travel for his family and working only four months at sea. This led to another contract and his own ship.

Two years later Benny moved to the line's head office in Miami and, over a period of time, not only did a variety of management jobs for Royal Caribbean but was also exposed to the Celebrity Cruise Lines ships since RCCL also owns Celebrity. His first site inspection on Celebrity Constellation impressed him as to the quality of the product.

His wife and daughter joined him in Miami for the two years onshore.
Benny Weidacher
Benny Weidacher - Hotel Director

“In 2006 I went back on the ships and continued as Food and Beverage Director but I was hoping for a promotion that, at that time, wasn't available. I left Royal Caribbean on very good terms and went to a small cruise line that I didn't enjoy working for.” He rejoined his former company in what he said was “the best decision in my life” and was immediately promoted to Associate Hotel Director then, in 2007, became a Hotel Director. In 2011 he, again, left the ships and was involved with two major ship revitalization projects reporting directly to the line's vice president. From this experience he gained an even greater appreciation for the term 'teamwork' that he carries to his present position.

Benny moved to Celebrity Cruises in July, 2013, and, at the time of this interview, holds the position of Hotel Director on the Solstice-class Celebrity Equinox, a job that puts a smile on his face.

“I think the ships are absolutely amazing,” he says, “The hardware and the product we give our guests is excellent. I am proud to work for Celebrity because what the ship and what the company represents is remarkable. ”

I asked about the 'team' concept with his current assignment. “I think the number one key to success is the team. If you are able to build a team that works in harmony, has the same goal, runs in the same direction and has fun at work, then you are good to go,” Benny points out. “It starts with the captain. If you have a good captain it filters down to us, and it filters down to the last employee of the ship which is the most important person, as far as I'm concerned. They are in touch with the guests every day. The waiters, the stateroom attendants, people in the retail area and in guest relations… those are who deal with the guests.”
Benny Weidacher - Celebrity Cruises
Benny has fun at the ship building contest
Benny Weidacher - Celebrity Cruises
Benny joins the contest winners

One of the most heard comments from passengers on a Celebrity cruise is the high visibility of the senior officers and their interaction with their guests.

“I think that is one thing on Celebrity that we pride ourselves with. We don't want to manage our operation from behind a computer but go out there and socialize. Go to events. Go to groups. There are our ship activities and events that we all attend. We have our social hours when things are busy, like when the theatre finishes or people are leaving the dining room. Just stop and have a short conversation. That's important. I think it's great. I just love it!”

I asked Benny about the most challenging aspect of his job. “I would say it is those things that you have little or no control over. Be it on the financial side, be it when you have bad weather. We are all held accountable at the end of the cruise. When you go on a vacation and you pay $200 per person to go on a tour and it's raining and it's windy, that wasn't good. At the end of the cruise your holiday wasn't good and it reflects on me.”

Today Benny, his wife and their two children live back in Graz. His family joins him at sea when possible and, during his time ashore, he relaxes in his city of 300,000, Austria's third largest and, according to him, “the most beautiful!”

Bob Rice
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