Management Committee

The 2020/21 Executive is made up of the following member organisations and their nominated representatives:



James Coughlan

Intercruises - Term expires 2021

An innovative tourism leader with over 19 years’ experience James started his career as a Chef onboard luxury cruise line Crystal Cruises before transferring to the Shore Excursions department for 10 years where he travelled the world to over 100 countries and embraced the passion for creating the very best travel experiences for his guests.

Over the last 9 years James has been responsible for the Shore Excursion department with Intercruises in Australia where he has led the team to new heights and successes growing the business and delivering extraordinary experiences to his cruise line clients. In this field James has a vast knowledge of all levels of the business, the geography of Australian experiences and the nuances around diverse cultures and markets each one has.

Known by colleagues and industry partners as a wealth of knowledge and enthusiasm to deliver the very best experience, James has created many industry first tours and products with the most recent being the “Kangaroo Island Recovery tour”. This was created to allow the cruise guests to have an opportunity after the bush fires to meet those locals that were effected and to hear their stories but also to provide the much needed financial support through this non for profit experience.

In his new role as Commercial Director Asia Pacific & Indian Ocean, James is now responsible for the commercial strategy and client relationships for his clients within this region. 


Kristy Little

Tasports- Term expires 2022

Kristy has more than twelve years’ experience in marketing and business development roles within the Tasmanian tourism industry. This includes her current role as Commercial Manager of Cruise for TasPorts, where she has found her professional passion for the cruise industry during her nine year tenure.

Since joining TasPorts, Kristy has overseen the strategic development of the cruise portfolio for Tasmania’s key cruise ports and has managed the segment through a period of monumental growth for the state.  

Kristy has played a key role in guiding the development of TasPorts’ port infrastructure and services in line with the evolving needs of cruise operators, whilst providing oversight on strategic and operational planning for cruise ship visits. A critical element of Kristy’s current role is creating and maintaining valuable and constructive relationships with industry and stakeholders, as well as developing business growth opportunities for the cruise segment within Tasmania.

During her career, Kristy has crafted her skills in stakeholder and community engagement, event management, as well as media relations, through her previous roles with Forestry Tasmania’s Corporate Affairs Division and Promotions Manager for the Tasmanian Radio Network.

Kristy’s unique experience gives her a diverse and balanced understanding of the cruise segment, from both the port operations and infrastructure standpoint, as well as from the tourism perspective.

Karlie Cavanagh  

Karlie Cavanagh

Inchcape Shipping Services - Term expires 2021

Karlie has an extensive experience and operational knowledge of Australian Cruise ports and requirements, currently from her last 4 years as part of the Inchcape Shipping Services team in her role as National Cruise Coordinator, accountable for liaison with ports, principals and vendors around the Australian coast.  With direct on-site familiarity and experience of all key cruise locations in Australia and many of the less known, her role is focused on maximising the experience of both guests and vessels and crew within Australia.

Her value on the committee is further supported by her historical employment at Sydney Port Corporation, and prior as a Master on Captain Cook Cruises at Sydney Harbour.  With a true passion for the cruise industry and attention to detail, it is felt that her direct involvement with the ACA will provide a strong operational knowledge resource, and practical capability to support and develop the cruise industry in Australia.


Karen Davies

Abercrombie & Kent - Term Expires 2022

Karen Davies is a 30-year veteran of the tourism and hospitality industry, which has included 20 years with Discover The World Marketing as General Manager, 5 years with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines as Air/Sea & Pier Manager and currently, Head of Cruise at Abercrombie & Kent Australia/New Zealand.

Karen and her management team have supported the cruise industry for many years with projects and collaborations with Tertiary institutions such as Blacktown Tafe and colleges in Victoria.  This has created pathways for those new to the industry by providing a Ground Handling Module in their tourism certification which in turn has led to exposure and employment for those just starting out in the cruise industry.

Karen was instrumental in expanding Abercrombie & Kent cruise operations and opening offices in Sydney and Auckland office which combined with our head office in Melbourne provides services for all cruise brands calling into Australian & New Zealand waters.

Natalie Godward  

Natalie Godward

Sub Committee Member - Conferences and Events
Port Authority of NSW - Term expires 2021

A passionate advocate for tourism and regional areas, Natalie is the Cruise Development Manager for Port Authority of NSW looking after cruise visitation into NSW regional ports. 

Natalie is responsible for the development and growth of the Port of Eden, and the expanding of regional NSW port offerings through the Regional Port Development Project.  This project included scoping of the NSW coastline to identify ports with maritime capability to accept cruise, working with communities, local stakeholders and tourism bodies to build cruise ready destination experiences and working with cruise lines and ground handlers to build awareness and build visitation to these regional ports.  The Regional Port Development project also feeds into the NSW Government’s Cruise Development Plan and actions to build cruise visitation to regional ports.  

Natalie also sits on the board of Destination Southern NSW, tasked with supporting the Southern region’s tourism development. And prior to joining Port Authority, Natalie discovered the best of the region and how to engage visitors in her role at Sapphire Coast Tourism.  Natalie has also owned a small business, volunteered for many events and committees, worked in corporate roles with Fairfax Digital and McCann Erickson and travelled the world, although not nearly enough if you ask her. 

Jill Abel  

Jill Abel

Chief Executive Officer

July 2018 to June 2022

Jill commenced her work in the cruise industry in 1995 when she became a consultant to Hobart Ports (now Tasports) looking after the operational aspects of the cruise ship visits. The position developed to include the Executive Officer role of Cruise Tasmania, marketing the state as a cruise ship destination. Jill worked in this role for ten years until 2005.

In February of 2005 Jill was appointed General Manager of Australian Cruise Association, the peak industry marketing body and in 2015 appointed as Chief Executive Officer. Australian Cruise Association is responsible for the marketing of Australia and the Pacific to the cruise ship industry.

Jill manages the marketing initiatives of the member based organisation that includes international sales missions, attendance at international cruise events, website development, membership development and representation, brochure production and media.

Jill is responsible for the management of the Economic Impact Study, presented annually, identifying the benefits of the Australian Cruise Ship Industry. Jill represents Australian Cruise Association on a range of Federal Government working committees working with the whole of industry to address current and future issues and is also the secretary of the organisation.

Jill has a Diploma of Business (Tourism) and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.


For further information, download the Management Committee Position Description.