John McGirl, chief operations officer at The World, has been named president of the Marine Hotel Association (MHA), the group announced at its 33rd annual conference and trade show taking place this week in Orlando. The World is the only privately owned residential cruise ship.
As president, McGirl joins other cruise line executives and vendors on the MHA’s board of directors.
McGirl is a highly regard cruise line executive and before his current role at The World, held key positions at Royal Caribbean Cruises, as vice president of human resources, and also at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, as senior vice president and chief human resources officer.
He has also held posts with Seabourn and Cunard Line.
McGirl was born and grew up in a town called Sligo in western Ireland. He went to school and college in Galway, where he graduated from hospitality school. His first job was working as a porter in a hotel in his hometown.
There was a lecturer at the hotel school who had worked for many years aboard the QE2 and shared stories from around the world with the students. The result was that McGirl set his goal to work aboard the famous liner. He said he applied immediately out of school, but was not accepted, so he continued to apply until he was.
Joining Cunard in 1987, he started out as an assistant purser on the QE2, meaning he did mostly entry level administrative jobs, but he had his foot in the door.
That was all he needed. Spending 15 years with the company, McGirl rose to vice president of human resources (HR) based at Cunard’s New York headquarters.
He left in 2004 to cofound People2Strategy, a consulting company, which is still active today, although McGirl no longer plays a part. He ran the firm together with its cofounder Patricia Sadar for three years, working with Royal Caribbean International as one of its clients, before joining the cruise line as vice president of HR.
After five years at Royal Caribbean, McGirl joined the Naples Community Health Center. His main role there was as the chief patient experience officer.
Then followed a brief stint as senior vice president and chief HR officer at Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings before joining The World in April 2015.
McGirl takes over the MHA president role from Holland America Line’s John Peijs.