Kristin Demetriou: Riding Out Bergen Line's Stormy Seas

Kristin Demetriou, president of cruise operator Bergen Line Inc., doesn't mind commuting to New York--even if it is from Nashville, where her husband works. Says Demetriou, 42: "That's the compromise I make to have what I want. I love my work."

The feeling is no doubt mutual. Bergen Line, which owns 11 ships that cruise along the Norwegian coast and books passage on 17 others, had been profitable since it opened in 1938. But mismanagement pushed it into rough waters in 1987 and 1988. Recruited in October, 1989, Demetriou turned things around. Now, she's changing the old-fashioned line into a modern marketer: Through stepped-up advertising and joint promotions with tour operators and travel agents, she helped increase traffic by 15% this year in a market weak from recession. Sales topped $10 million in 1990.

For Demetriou, a native Norwegian and Columbia University graduate, the job completes a circle. She started at Bergen in 1975. She went on to rivals Bahama Cruise Line and Royal Viking Line. When her husband became chief of surgery at a Nashville hospital in 1986, she opened a travel agency there.

Until she heard from Bergen, which is owned by Norwegian companies TFDS and OVDS. Demetriou plans to add two ships. And she is exploring opportunities around the globe, though she won't say where. "We have enormous plans," she says. Enormous enough to make that commute worthwhile.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.