Meet the MD: Ronald Mackenzie of Cruise Loch Ness

Meet the MD: Ronald Mackenzie of Cruise Loch Ness

Ronald Mackenzie started working as part of his father's company Cruise Loch Ness when he was 19 years old. These days he heads up the business, hoping to drive its success into the future.

Describe your role in no more than 100 words. 

I oversee the running of Cruise Loch Ness and drive the business forward into new territory.

My father, Norman Hugh Mackenzie, launched it in 1968 with an ex-RNLI lifeboat. I became a partner in the business when I was 19 years old.

There is a lot of paperwork that goes with this business because the boats require regular services and maintenance work, so it is my job to ensure this is done.

Business development is a big focus of mine. We have recently invested in a new website, a new booking system and next year we will launch a custom made £1.4 million catamaran.


What is it the company does?

Cruise Loch Ness is a family run business based at Fort Augustus. Since 1968 we have been running cruises from the southern bank of Loch Ness and have carried over 1.5 million passengers (and counting) on our fleet of boats in this time.

Our two larger boats, the Royal Scot and Legend of Loch Ness can each take over 100 passengers. The Royal Scot houses the best sonar equipment available, maximising passengers’ chances of spotting any unusual activity in the loch.

We also have two rib boats, perfect for thrill seekers as they are capable of going at very high speeds across the loch. Lastly we have a luxury, leather seated vessel, perfect for our VIP guests.

The crew have welcomed celebrities such as Billy Connolly, Robin Williams and Ewan McGregor on board, and have even carried the Olympic torch, as well as millions of dedicated ‘Nessie’ hunters searching for their glimpse of the elusive monster.


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?

As it is a family business, I have been involved as long as I can remember. I used to come down to the boats after school and at weekends.

After I left school I became involved in the business full time and at 19 I became a partner in the business.


What do you believe makes a great leader?

I believe you have to be passionate about the business, before your employees can be.

I’m passionate about boats, about Loch Ness and about the people we meet. I believe that comes across in my leadership, and hopefully inspires my staff.

I also believe in praise. If someone has gone over and above, or done a really great job, I’m quick to say thank you and reward.

People who feel appreciated will always go over and above. If staff members do not feel valued, they will move on quickly.

I have staff that have been with me for thirty plus years, so I must be doing something right.


What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?

Many years ago I put down a deposit on a new boat.

It was a bad deal and I subsequently lost a lot of money.

I learnt a big lesson there though, and have never repeated the same mistake again.


How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?

Family time. We have a motor home and we love to take that down the West coast when the opportunity arises. I enjoy going for long walks, and I live in the perfect place for that.

The scenery around Loch Ness and the Highlands is simply stunning.


When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I actually wanted to be in the merchant navy, but my father would not let me. I’m glad now, but at the time it was a rod of contention.


Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?    

Lateness. That’s a real bug bearer of mine.

And if any of the staff do not take pride in their appearance, that is another pet hate.

We face the public every day, so it’s very important to be smart and ready for the task ahead.


Where do you see the company in five years time?

Expanding, expanding and expanding! We have just invested £1.4 million pounds into a custom built Catamaran, that will give our guests and visitors the best experience on the Loch possible.

The windows are monster in size and the top deck is undercover, so typical wet Highland weather will not stop tourists from going outside and getting a real taste of Loch Ness and its breath-taking views! We are very excited about it.


What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?

Be passionate about what you do, and think carefully before going into any business deals. Think about things long and hard and make sure all the paperwork is in order.

Finally, don’t be scared, if you are passionate about something, do your research, and then make it happen!