Category Archives: P&O Cruises

Gary Barlow announces his Role With P&O Cruises

Details of Partnership With P&O Cruises and Gary Barlow

British singer, songwriter, producer and musician Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Member of one of the biggest groups in British music history Take That, is set to make Iona’s intimate music bar the most exciting live music venue at sea. The atmospheric late-night music venue will showcase an eclectic range of performances. In keeping with P&O Cruises traditions, the shows will be curated to appeal to British music lovers. Up-and-coming musicians will get a chance to play, which could give them their lucky break.

Naming Ceremony Performance

Gary’s role with P&O Cruises will also see him performing at Iona’s naming celebration which kicks off IonaFest, the UK’s most exciting new floating festival which is a seven-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords from Southampton on July 4, 2020.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as the brand ambassador. Gary’s impressive career speaks for itself and he will bring his vision and personality to our new The 710 Club; from guiding the resident band, selecting future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.

“We’re excited that our guests can be a part of it and they will have the opportunity to watch Gary light up Iona’s theatre for some extraordinary performances in dazzling surroundings. This collaboration highlights our commitment to providing world-class entertainment on Iona that places music firmly at its heart.”

Image: P&O Cruises. Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.

Gary Barlow added: “I want The 710 Club to be a celebration of great music and great talent. As its musical director, I want to give a unique experience for people who love music as much as I do.”

“Music has been such a massive part of my life – and taken me on so many journeys and adventures. I’m hoping to pass this on to all the guests in my club.”

Cruises With Gary Barlow

Gary will also join guests on two Iona holidays in 2020 for exclusive performances;*

  • Iona G018 departing Southampton on 29 August for the Norwegian Fjords
  • Iona G025 departing Southampton on 31 October for Spain and Portugal

*Tickets for the performances are limited. They will go on sale prior to the holiday, on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost will be £25 per person with a maximum of 4 tickets per holiday booking. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to two charities; Child Bereavement UK and Teenage Cancer Trust.

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Gary Barlow Is New P&O Cruises Brand Ambassador

Gary Barlow Will Be P&O Cruises New Brand Ambassador

P&O Cruises have announced today, that Gary Barlow is going to be their new brand ambassador. Guests cruising in 2020 will be able to experience the benefit of this pioneering partnership.

As a producer, musician, songwriter and member of the legendary British pop group Take That, cruisers are sure to be thrilled at the announcement.  P&O Cruises are holding an exclusive event at the Grade 1 listed church building St. Luke’s London Symphony Orchestra this evening (15 January). Here they will announce more details of Gary’s as the new brand ambassador.

Gary is one of the most successful musicians in the UK, with an impressive career. He has written 15 number one singles and sold over 45 million records worldwide. His live performances have sold over 8 million concert tickets. In recognition of his great work, Gary has won six Ivor Novello Awards and eight BRIT Awards.

Gary has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists. These include legendary singers such as, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams. Gary composed the score for the hugely successful ‘Finding Neverland’ and worked alongside screenwriter Tim Firth to write the music and lyrics for the musical ’The Girls’. More recently Gary worked alongside his bandmates Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Robbie Williams to produce ‘The Band’ a record-breaking musical featuring the music of Take That.

P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as a brand ambassador and we look forward to revealing more exciting details on Gary’s role very soon.”

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Details of Partnership With P&O Cruises and Gary Barlow

SkyDome – One of Iona’s Star Attractions

From dawn until dusk Iona’s SkyDome brings the outside in

P&O Cruises newest ship Iona will connect guests with the sea, sky and shoreline with an innovative SkyDome. This incredible feature will include a swimming pool that transforms into a stage at night, as well as a glass dome roof which creates a temperate climate while providing guests with fabulous views as they cruise through the scenic Norwegian Fjords.

The first of its kind in the cruise industry, the two-deck SkyDome on decks 16 and 17 will be the place to go for relaxation, effortless dining and contemporary entertainment.

During the day, SkyDome will be a relaxed, poolside environment, with mouth watering dining and drinking options including a grill, pizzeria and street food as well as premium ice cream with flavours inspired by popular ports of call. The area will feature a central pool and two whirlpools. Sun loungers, reclining chairs, greenery and artworks will all create a peaceful environment and make it a tranquil space during the day, giving it the feel of an English park in summer.

As the sun goes down SkyDome will come alive as the space seamlessly transitions into a must-visit entertainment venue, showcasing spectacular aerialist performances and playing host to party nights under the stars.

The mood will change from daytime to showtime with stunning audio-visual effects including dazzling light shows creating a dynamic ambience. The swimming pool will transform into a stage for the night’s entertainment, while dramatic aerial acrobatic shows will make full use of SkyDome’s height. After the show, the space will transition into a party night, with DJs playing as guests dance under the night sky, whatever the weather.

The glass dome roof was designed by award-winning British engineers Eckersley O’Callaghan, renowned for their work on such innovative structures as Bulgari Glass House in Italy and Apple Park in California. The inviting living space underneath the dome was created by cruise ship specialists Partner Ship Design.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow said: “SkyDome promises to be one of Iona’s star attractions, providing guests with a magical venue in which to spend quality time whatever the weather. With stunning views of the ocean by day and of starry skies at night, I’m confident that this extraordinary venue will prove popular with our guests, whether they are early birds or night owls. With sunshine, swimming, dining and dancing all in one contemporary, visually spectacular space, SkyDome will raise the bar for entertainment spaces at sea.”

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona will go on sale in September 2018.

P&O Cruises drops discretionary Gratuities

Gratuities will no longer be added automatically on P&O Cruises

Gratuities have been a bone of contention for cruisers far and wide. Someone only has to mention the word on social media and the flood gates open.

So today’s announcement from P&O Cruises that the daily on board discretionary Service Charge will be removed across the fleet on cruises departing from May 2019, has been welcomed with open arms.

Guests will pay one set price which will include luxury accommodation, award-winning dining in a range of restaurants, complimentary children’s clubs and a wide choice of entertainment options including theatre shows, comedy and headline performers.

Guests will pay one set price which will include childrens clubs

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “We take huge pride in giving guests a holiday experience that’s truly memorable and special.  By removing the daily discretionary Service Charge, P&O Cruises will make enjoying a cruise holiday an effortless experience, knowing that great service comes as standard.”

Guests will pay one set price which will include entertainment

Applicable Sailings

From May 2019  the daily discretionary service charge on board will be removed from the following cruises and all thereafter;

  • Oceana E911/A 2 May 2019
  • Azura A911 4 May 2019
  • Britannia B912 4 May 2019
  • Arcadia J903 5 May 2019
  • Ventura N910 5 May 2019
  • Oriana X907 11 May 2019
  • Aurora R907 13 May 2019

P&O Cruises Facebook page has already received 342 comments in two hours. Here are some of the cruise line’s responses;

  • Rest assured, our wonderful on board staff will not lose out
  • We will be making up any difference in wage to them.
  • We have listened to guest feedback regarding this
  • Cruises will not be going up as a result of this, please note we do operate fluid pricing, meaning they can go up or down at anytime due to demand and other reasons.
  • We do not plan to introduce any gratuity on our drinks on board.
  • On board spend should also remain the same across Select fare bookings (where applicable).

About P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises fleet of seven ships offer holidays tailored to British tastes. Their newest ship, Iona, a 180,000 ton LNG-powered ship is on order for delivery in 2020 with a similar ship on order for delivery in 2022.
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Iona Inaugural Season To Sail Norwegian Fjords

P&O Cruises have revealed that its new 180,000 ton LNG-powered ship Iona, to be launched in 2020, will sail exclusively to the Norwegian Fjords during the inaugural season.

A destination that is best experienced by sea, Iona will be able to show off her impressive design which focuses on maximizing the views.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Iona’s Atrium with floor to ceiling windows will give guests stunning views of the Norwegian Fjords.

P&O Cruises senior vice president, Paul Ludlow said: “SkyDome, with its glass roof and temperature control will ensure that guests have an unrivalled viewpoint as the ship sails through the breathtaking vertical expanses of narrow gorges and blue sky and past mountains, glaciers and wildlife.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Enjoy two deck high views of the Norwegian Fjords from Iona’s coffee bar

“Iona has been designed to make the sea the star. With incredible views guaranteed from all over the ship, the whole season of Fjords itineraries will enable guests to have the choice of when they want to travel to this spectacular area.

In all ports of call P&O Cruises has developed a diverse range of excursions and activities for guests.

Olden

Active adventure: For spectacular views over the Fjord landscape guests can take a trip on the dramatic Leon Skylift that carries them up to the summit of Mount Hoven.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – The View from the Loen Skylift near Olden

Epic vistas: From Olden visit the unmissable sight of the Briksdal glacier – part of the famous Jostedal ice field, the largest in continental Europe.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Lovatnet Lake near Olden

Bergen

Active adventure: Adrenaline junkies will enjoy seeing the sights on Norway’s fastest zipline, which soars 300m from Mt Ulriken 643m high to Mt Floyen.

Cultural encounters: From Edvard Munch’s iconic Expressionism to today’s contemporary culture Bergen is the centre of the Norwegian art scene.   History comes alive in Bryggen, Bergen’s UNESCO-listed wharf area where most of the 60 buildings are 300 years old.

Epic vistas: For a different viewpoint guests can enjoy Bergen’s beautiful setting by helicopter. Fly over Fjords, mountains and glaciers and look down on one of Norway’s largest Fjords, the Sognefjord.

Local flavours: A visit to Bergen Fish Market gives a snapshot of Norway’s foodie culture. It has been a gastronomic destination since 1200 when it was a meeting place for merchants and fishermen.

Hellesylt

Active adventure: Guests can take a fast paced rafting adventure along 8km of fast flowing river followed by lunch around a bonfire.

Geiranger

Active adventure: Those in the mood for a two-wheeled adventure can descend the 17km by bike from the shores of a lake more than 1000m above sea level.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Geiranger

Geirangerfjord

Active adventure: Guests can see one of nature’s masterpieces from the water with a kayaking experience that will float them past the amazing waterfalls this Fjord is famous for.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Kayaking in Geirangerfjord with Seven Sisters waterfall

Stavanger

Cultural encounters: known as the ‘Cradle of the Vikings’ this small city is packed full of history and heritage.

Epic vistas: Take a helicopter ride over Stavanger’s most iconic natural wonder – Pulpit Rock (a 604m-high flat-topped cliff rising out of the Lysefjord).

Active adventure: The Lysefjord RIB ride will give guests an alternative and unforgettable view of Pulpit Rock.

Local flavours: Fishing for crayfish is a traditional pleasure for the Norwegians and guests will be able to enjoy this surrounded by stunning mountains.

Alesund

Cultural encounters: Alesund offers visitors views of the best preserved examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.

Photo Credit: P&O Cruises – Alesund

Hardanderfjord

Epic vistas: Enjoy the beauty of Norway’s second longest Fjord by light aircraft.

Iona has been designed to maximise views from three storey high glass walls in the Grand Atrium, to the innovative Conservatory Mini-suites. Guests are guaranteed an immersive experience as they cruise through one of the planet’s most spectacular regions on a cleaner and greener LNG- powered ship.

Iona will offer seven day holidays to the Norwegian Fjords from May 2020, each leaving from and returning to Southampton.

Carnival Corporation has also been a leader in the cruise industry’s use of liquefied natural gas (LNG) – the most environmentally friendly advanced fuel solution available and the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel, resulting in significantly reduced air emissions. The company has ordered 11 next-generation “green” cruise ships fully powered by LNG in port and at sea with expected delivery dates between 2018 and 2025.

Over 40 percent of the company’s fleet has “cold ironing” capabilities, enabling ships to use shoreside electric power where available while in port. The company has also implemented broad initiatives to optimize onboard energy usage and innovative hull designs and coatings to reduce fuel consumption by minimizing frictional drag.

Iona is currently being built at the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg and will be launched in May 2020. Holidays on Iona will go on sale in September 2018.

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P&O Cruises Astonishing Entertainment

Last Sunday I attended the Premier of P&O Cruises new show, Astonishing. A red carpet lined with fireworks and bubbles greeted the lucky guests, which included Coronation Street cast members, tv presenters Ben Shepherd, Declan Donnelly and Judith Chalmers, celebrity chef Marco Pierre White and Eighties singer, Chesney Hawkes.

The last time I saw a P&O Cruises show, was onboard Ventura a few years ago. I’ve seen a few cruise shows in my time and as an ex professional singer, I can be quite critical of them. I have to say that after seeing P&O Cruises’ latest show, they have put themselves back on the map for offering world class entertainment.

Astonishing is the culmination of a dream by BAFTA-winning entertainer and presenter Stephen Mulhern, who produced the show with Jonathan Wilkes.  The show has been choreographed by Paul Domaine who has worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue, Sir Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

Photo by Flavia Gray

As people were entering the theatre, they were given an envelope. I took one and bravely sat in the front row. No-one knew what to expect, and people were a little apprehensive of sitting up front. I threw caution to the wind and went for it. We had also been given a miniature bottle of Lanson Champagne and a paper straw. This is the first time I have attended a Celebrity Premier, so I’m not sure if this style of drinking is the norm, but I was happy to go with it.

Photo by Flavia Gray

The show started and was captivating from start to finish.

Photo by Flavia Gray

It’s not just a magic show, Astonishing is a production that takes you through eras, emotions and journeys, that completely captivates the audience. The costumes, dancing and vocals are equal to the standard you would expect in the West End or on Broadway. The music is fun and engaging and the cast connect with the audience in a way that makes you love them.

Photo by Flavia Gray

Despite being so close to the stage, I could not see any clues as to how they created the illusions. Even during the mesmerising ultra violet scene, you still couldn’t see anyone on stage other than the dancers. Credit for this goes to Guy Barrett, (son of World acclaimed circus ringmaster Norman Barrett) who is the master illusionist behind the spectacular trickery.

Photo by Steve Dunlop

Photo by Flavia Gray

Here are some photos from the show.

Photo by Steve Dunlop

Photo by Flavia Gray

Photo by Steve Dunlop

Photo by Flavia Gray

Photo by Steve Dunlop

As the show drew to a close, the final trick was the mysterious appearance of Stephen and Jonathan on stage.

Photo by Flavia Gray

Photo by Flavia Gray

Photo by Flavia Gray

Photo by Flavia Gray P & O Cruises Senior Vice President, Paul Ludlow onstage with Stephen Mulhern and Jonathan Wilkes

After the show, guests were treated to Eric Lanlard’s signature afternoon tea, which is served on all seven P & O Cruises’ ships. In the meantime I went in search for my favourite tv personalities.

Photo by Flavia Gray The lovely Declan Donnelly.

Photo by Flavia Gray The talented Stephen Mulhern

Photo by Flavia Gray It’s Chesney Hawkes!

Astonishing can be seen onboard P&O Cruises ships Britannia, Azura and Ventura this summer. With 7 night cruises from just £549pp. Click here for offers.

Photo by Flavia Gray

Cruise People – Danielle Fear – Cruise Miss

Why This Young Lady Loves Cruise and The Best Cruise Tip Ever!

Danielle Fear is a young lass from Newcastle. She lives for cruising and this is reflected in her multi-award-winning blog Cruise Miss. Not one for flying, Danielle is proof that not only is cruising from UK ports the gateway to a world of adventure, it is also an activity that young people do enjoy. So let’s get Danielle’s take on cruising and see what tips she can offer.

When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?

My first cruise was in 2007 aboard P&O Cruises ‘Oriana’. It was a 12-night Canary Islands sailing and I was hooked from the moment I stepped aboard. I’d deliberately booked a cruise that was less than 2 weeks in duration, just in case I didn’t like it, and I regretted it almost immediately as I didn’t want it to end.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

One thing that had always put me off cruising was the dress code. I didn’t want to dress up and be forced into a personality that wasn’t really me. Once onboard, I realised that the dress codes weren’t in fact written into the law books and that you could opt-in or opt-out, which I thought was great. However, I soon realised that it also meant if you opted out, you would be the victim of the evil eye from several of your fellow passengers and this is still something I don’t like about cruising. We have the right to decide what we want to do and if I decide I don’t want to wear a formal dress on formal night and that instead, I want to go casual and dine in the buffet, then that’s my choice. We don’t need people throwing the stink eye around.

What is the best cruise you have been on and why?

I’ve been on a lot of cruises, but I think I’d still say that my trip to the Arctic Circle remains one of my favourites, followed closely by my sailings to the Caribbean and America. The Arctic was just spectacular and the excursions were more connected to nature and adventure than any others I have ever experienced; husky sledding, reindeer rides and chasing the Northern Lights.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Everything appeals to me, even the smell of the ship. It’s no secret that I am happiest when I am at sea and I genuinely do love everything about the experience, well, maybe not formal nights, but everything else. I’d go as far as to say that I am addicted to it.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

I always look for at least 1 new destination. I don’t over analyse these things anymore because being able to travel anywhere is a huge privilege. If there’s 1 new place for me to explore, I’m happy, if not, I’m sure the cruise will be just as much as it would be if I’d never been to any of the ports. I also like to make sure the ship suits me – I don’t like HUGE cruise ships when it comes to my own relaxing time away. I want something I can navigate from bow to stern in under an hour! ?

Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?

I want to go everywhere. If there’s a port, I want to go there. Simple as that.

What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?

Check to see if my case is outside the cabin so I can unpack. If it’s not there, I’ll likely grab a drink from the bar and mark the start of what is sure to be yet another amazing adventure.

What items do you always take with you on a cruise?

I take the obvious things like hair straighteners and so on, but one thing I started doing in 2016 was taking my own hangers, but with a twist! I don’t just pack the hangers on their own, I pack them with my clothes already hanging on them. It sounds crazy, but it means when I open my case, all I do is grab the hangers and then hang them – the clothes are already on! It makes unpacking your case five times quicker. Obviously, you need to pack them carefully so you don’t damage your clothes, but I’m yet to have an incident.

What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it?

My last cruise was with Saga Cruises and we visited Iceland. The only thing I didn’t like was the wind and rain – I genuinely cannot fault anything about Saga. The ship, accommodation, crew and food are EXCELLENT. The ports on this cruise were nearly all new to me and the choice of excursions was ideal.

What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?

My next cruise is the cruise of all cruises, I’m going around the world with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. It still doesn’t feel real, but it is happening. 108-nights aboard Black Watch. I’m looking forward to everything about this cruise, especially South America, Asia and French Polynesia. There are destinations on the itinerary that I thought I would only ever dream of visiting, but here I am, about to visit them. I think I’m most looking forward to Bora Bora, Mumbai, Havana, Aqaba and Yangon.

What is your dream cruise?

My dream cruise would be the world cruise, but Fred. Olsen’s January 2019 ‘Californian Dream’ sailing is definitely on my radar! Not only is it aboard one of my favourite ships (Balmoral) it’s visiting destinations that are on my bucket list, including San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about trying a cruise but is worried they will feel trapped on a crowded cruise ship?

Don’t keep overthinking things, just go and do it. You never know unless you try and with some of the MEGA ships out there, the last thing you will feel is trapped!

Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?

The last thing you do in cruise club is talk about the cost of your cruise. I’ve warned you.

To follow Danielle on her travels around the world and the cruise ships she’s sailed on visit cruisemiss.com

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P&O Cruises drops discretionary Gratuities

Steve Dunlop – Photographer

Steve Dunlop – A Proper Photographer

I don’t know the official statistics, but whenever I have been to a significant cruise event, Steve Dunlop always pops up out of nowhere like a stealth meerkat. By the time you’ve noticed him, he’s halfway across the room. When flicking through the weekly trade magazines, you can guarantee to see his name credited to the big events photos. So let’s find out more about the man of mystery.

What was the first cruise ship you photographed and when?

P&O Oriana at the naming ceremony in 1995.

You have been the official photographer for many naming ceremonies. Have you ever met one of the Royals? If so, which one(s) and can you tell me about it?

Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions; with P&O Cruises in 1995 for Oriana and 2015 for Britannia, and with Cunard for the naming of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.

Also there was, Princess Anne at the naming for P&O Cruises Aurora in 2000, The Duchess of Cambridge  at Princess Cruises Royal Princess naming ceremony in 2013, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall for Cunard Queen Victoria naming ceremony in 2007.

You can’t chat with the Royals so they’ve never had the benefit of hearing about my favourite Draught Bitter.

Many years ago I was photographing The Duke of Edinburgh at his Awards scheme. He unexpectedly asked me directly if I was certain I wouldn’t get the rather voluptuous Rubenesque figures featured on the paintings in the room in any of the shots I took of him.  I didn’t.

Steve in the media throng at the Britannia naming ceremony

Can you name other Celebrities you have photographed? Do you have a favourite to work with and why?

I love Jonathan Ross because he once said I looked like a proper photographer!

As Brucie would say (and I’ve photographed him at The P&O Cruises Britannia Naming), ‘They are all my favourites.”

In cruise I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all the P&O Cruises Food Heroes; Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanlard, Olly Smith, James Martin. Attul Kochhar.

I’ve also photographed many guest celebrity chefs in the Cookery School onboard P&O Britannia, such as Carluccio and Alex James.

Marco Pierre White and Eric Lanlard are wonderfully nice people. I’ve enjoyed many days at sea over many years aboard P&O ships with each.

I once spent a day with Marco, island hopping en route back from a promotional shoot in the Caribbean.  We had 8-9 hours to spare in Antigua before our transatlantic flight. My wife who was also out there working, sourced a beach bar nearby. We  spent the afternoon eating chicken wings and drinking cold beer. He’s great company. At the airport he insisted on sitting with us in the main terminal instead of seeking refuge in the Business Lounge.

I’ve met many famous people attending as celebrity guests at all of the Naming ceremonies.  I’m a  big Corrie fan so meeting Liz Dawn (Vera Duckworth) at the Cunard Queen Elizabeth naming was a biggie for me.. nearly outstripping being part of the Royal Rota photographing the Queen for that ceremony.

Twiggy at Seabourn Sojurn Christening 2010. I had to report to Twiggy’s cabin so that she could OK the pictures I’d taken of her.   Sat with her going through the shots and chatting. I told her I was great fan and that she reminded me of my Aunty Diane. She looked at me (not surprisingly) in a quizzical manner. I had to explain that looking like my Aunty Diane was a good thing…

Some ship Namings:

Dame Kelly Holmes, P&O Cruises Arcadia 2005

Dame Helen Mirren, P&O Cruises Ventura 2008

Darcey Bussell CBE, P&O cruises Azura 2010

Dame Shirley Bassey, P&O cruises Adonia 2011

Nina Barough Celebrity Cruises Eclipse Launch 2009

Emma Pontin  Celebrity Cruises Eclipse 2010

Dame Joan Collins, Uniworld Joie de Vivre Christening 2017

What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?

Deadlines are usually easy to meet. You can send images immediately so unless someone wants it before I’ve taken it then I should be ok.

Biggest challenge is keeping up with ever changing technology

Is there an occasion that you have worked on that you are most proud of?

P&O Cruises Britannia Naming and being on the Royal Rota for Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria Namings.

Do you have a favourite photograph that you have taken?

A portrait of Marco Pierre White taken way back in 2006 which was first time I’d met him. The photo was taken at his restaurant in St James’s Street and was used throughout P&O promotional / marketing material for years and years. I still see it in use now. I think it was  because I managed to capture him smiling.  

The Queen smiling at P&O Cruises Britannia naming.

Cunard Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Southampton from a helicopter.

Steve’s feet in a helicopter taking a photo of Queen Elizabeth arriving Southampton 8th October 2010

If you could do any other job, what would it be?

A gardener.  My younger brother is a gardener by profession. I’d be hoping that I could look as fit, lean, sun kissed & healthy as he does

What is an average day like for you?

If I’m at home in Bayswater like to start at 6.30am with walking our two Tibetan Terriers in Kensington Gardens. It’s the most relaxing start to a day. I take my iphone and shoot the sunrises and misty mornings for instagram & Twitter as I go.

I try to clear as much of a shoot off my desk on the day I shoot it. After a Big Awards Night this can mean working through to 4 or 5am. The incentive for doing this is to start the day relaxed in the park.

Most days I have a shoot during the daytime but  if I don’t then I’m usually at my desk updating social media feeds and website. Equipment needs preparing ready for the next shoot. The dogs will need an afternoon walk… sometimes to the local pub.

Is there a ship that you would love to photograph that you haven’t done yet?

I feel as though I’ve been on the best. I’ve certainly had the Best of Times on the ships I’ve photographed.

Do you cruise yourself?

Yes . I’ve been on two cruise holidays. Both with Celebrity Cruises. 

What was your last holiday

Long weekend in Mykonos in May with my wife.

Do you have your next holiday booked? If so, can you tell us about it?

I will be cruising up the Mekong on AMA Waterways AmaDara River cruise ship. I am travelling with my wife and four other friends we all work in the travel and/or cruise industry. I don’t usually take my camera on holiday but will be making an exception on this occasion.

Do you have a dream destination or cruise?

Would love to cruise the Antarctica or Alaska.

By Andrew Mandemaker

Do you have a funny or embarrassing story to tell?

Not a cruise story but it is water related.  I was shooting Sir Steve Redgrave for the Leander Club Henley Regatta brochure. It was in the days of shooting on film . I think he only had the two medals at the time.  It was FIVE in the morning in Henley. I’d just driven across London from Greenwich. Oooof.  Got some great shots of Steve training on the river from a launch following them tight in their wake .  On reaching dry land I was busy chatting away with them – probably not concentrating enough.  The roll of film dropped from my hands as I unloaded , rolled slowly along the jetty, and dropped into the Thames.  He looked at me with a smile and said “see you here tomorrow then”.

Can you give any tips for people to help capture great moments while on their cruise?

Don’t take too many photos or videos. Enjoy the moment. Live it in real time.   Failing that – step up to your subject and think about what it is you are photographing. That will help you frame & compose the shot to best effect. Don’t just shoot away hoping. Don’t use filters!

Visit Steve’s website for more information stevedunlop.com

Steve Dunlop

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So Do You Think Britannia Rules The Waves?

9 Things I Love About Britannia

So it wasn’t actually my first time onboard Britannia, but as you can imagine, the launch event was pretty hectic. An opportunity to revisit P & O Cruises newest ship came up, so I jumped at the opportunity to take another look.

1. Grand Atrium

If you have been on any of Britannia’s predecessors, you will notice the difference in her interior design. The atrium is contemporary and more luxurious than the rest of the fleet. The chandelier dominates and Wows you as you walk in. The bar looks lavish with its sparkly lighting and black marble top. In my opinion, a ship’s atrium sets the scene for the rest of the cruise experience. It kind of gets you in the mood for what is to come.

The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.

The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O Cruises design.

2. The Pool Deck

The most important part of any cruise ship in my opinion, is the pool deck (ok apart from the lifeboats). Britannia offers two pools in this area, as well as jacuzzis, attractive sun loungers, a platform/stage which has been graced by Ant and Dec in the Saturday Night Takeaway hosted onboard, and of course a pool bar.

Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway

Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard

3. Cabins and Staterooms

The main difference between Britannia and the other P and O ships, is that there are no oceanview staterooms. What I mean is that you can have an inside, or a balcony but nothing in between. They do have single cabins and accessible cabins available, but these do get booked up quickly.

A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.

A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins

4. The Crow’s Nest

It wouldn’t be a P and O ship without one, and Britannia is no exception. The Crow’s Nest is a real favourite with the regular P and O cruisers, and it’s not hard to see why. With stunning views of the ocean, ample seating, a piano and a bar, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the scenery as you cruise to your next destination.

The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views

Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes

A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)

5. Luxuriate in the Retreat

Whether you are looking to get away from the kids or just like that bit of extra luxury, the Retreat is a private adult only area to relax and unwind.

Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat

Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility

Relax in bistro style 

What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room

6. Relax in the Oasis Spa

So you are not a sun worshipper, or the itinerary you are sailing on is not quite warm enough. This is a great excuse to take a trip to the Oasis Spa. With hundreds of different types of treatments on offer, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.

Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers

Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away

7. A Food Hero for Everyone

We all need a hero, but P and O have five of them. I’ll take James Martin and you can all fight over the rest. In fact, we heard James was onboard the same day as us and I was hoping to say hello, but it wasn’t to be. We can but dream. Having said that, my knees did buckle when I came face to face with Marco Pierre-White on Ventura once, but to me James seems more of your boy next door type. Oh what am I talking about, I’d accept a date with either of them! 

The Cookery Club

This is a great addition for P & O Cruises but they won’t let me onboard when James or Marco are hosting their cookery classes. 

The Epicurean

A speciality restaurant that offers an afternoon tea created by French Pastry Chef Eric “Cake Boy” Lanlard. This is a not-to-be-missed experience whilst cruising onboard Britannia, and comes at a fraction of the price you would pay in a London Hotel. And it includes champagne.

Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean

The Glasshouse

One of my favourite features onboard P & O ships is Olly Smith’s  Glasshouse. Find out more when I took part in a wine tasting class onboard Ventura.

The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment

Sindhu

As a cruise line that caters primarily for the British market, P and O made a good call when creating the onboard Indian restaurant Sindhu with 2 Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar. 

Beautiful mahogany decor at Sindhu adds atmosphere to the fine dining Indian cuisine

8. The Limelight Club

This is my favourite feature onboard Britannia. It was first described to me as a sort of Ronnie Scott’s at sea. There is a cover charge for this venue and you can enjoy a beautiful meal, followed by performances from first class musicians. 

The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.

A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club

 

When I attended the Britannia launch event, I was adamant not to miss out on seeing Jaki Graham performing live. As an 80’s chick, it was a big deal to me.  

9. I Love P & O Cruises No Hassle Caribbean Fly Cruise

P & O Cruises have designed a unique hassle free Caribbean fly cruise experience. Depart from your preferred regional airport and once you check in your luggage, you won’t see it again until you get onboard the ship. You fly out the same day and as the aircraft is chartered, everyone is going to the same destination. There is no need for an Esta as you are not visiting the United States and no need to overnight in a hotel before your cruise.

Cruising with a Baby on P & O’s Ventura

Tips For Cruising With A Baby

Not only was this my first P & O cruise but it was also my first time cruising with a six-month-old baby.  As my daughter was 14 by this time, it had also been a while since I’d done the baby thing.  We were joined by my mum, so I had an extra pair of helping hands.

Pre-Cruise Planning

Before the cruise, I discovered that P & O offer more for parents with small babies than other cruise lines. You can order a baby bath, a steriliser, bottle warmer, a cot (travel cot) and baby food.  All at no extra cost.

The twin beds are the same size although the one on the left looks really skinny, it’s not.

On Arrival

We arrived in the room to find a lovely balloon tied to some sweets as a little extra touch for Joshua.  The balloon came in very handy when I was trying to distract Joshua long enough to get ready to go out.

Surprisingly the travel cot fits easily between the two beds or even at the foot of the farthest bed.  Be aware, if you have it there you obstruct the fridge which can be a bit of a pain.  I used to move it to the foot of the bed in the mornings when I was getting ready and then have it in the middle, at night.  I guess if like most people, you are travelling with the baby’s father, you will want the beds as a double.  In which case you can either have the cot at the end of the bed or around the corner.  I’ll show you further down.

Steriliser, bottle warmer, tea and coffee making facilities and UK plug sockets.

The steriliser and the bottle warmer, together with tea and coffee making facilities and a fridge.

A lovely and unusual touch to welcome young cruisers.

My daughter Lucy was booked into a twin room with my Mum so that she didn’t have to pay a single supplement.  However, once we got onboard, we asked if Lucy could join Josh and me in our room.  The ship staff were great about it and issued us with another key card for Lucy.

If you are swapping rooms it is very important to notify the ship staff!

This is because, your allocated meeting point in an emergency, depends on where your cabin is on the ship and if you go to a muster station that is not expecting you, there may not be a seat on the lifeboat should you need one. Similarly, if you are required to disembark the ship, it will appear that you are still onboard and someone may risk their life trying to save you unnecessarily.

Plenty of hanging space for clothes

This is the area outside the bathroom where you can hang your clothes.  The travel cot and bedding were already in our room for us.  You can place the cot in this area if you prefer so the baby almost has a separate bedroom area.  It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with really.  Speak to your room attendant about your needs because they will put the cot up every evening for you and then fold it away during the day.

Playroom

The playroom for under 3’s is open all-day

Ventura has a playroom which is open all day for parents with under 3’s and is complimentary.  Joshua was one of only about five babies onboard.  It will depend on when you travel as to how many children are onboard your cruise.

At night, the room turns into a night nursery with cot beds and curtain dividers.  As long as your child goes to sleep without a problem, you can drop them off from 6 pm onwards so that you can go and enjoy a meal and some entertainment with peace of mind.  You are given a pager so that you can be contacted at all times.  I think the nursery is open until about 1 am, however, the latest I collected Joshua was around 11.30.  I was surprised he went straight off to sleep every night, but it gave me some time to myself.

Sunrise while docking in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Morning Stroll

I like to get up very early in the morning and luckily with Joshua, I don’t need an alarm clock.  One of my favourite things to do is get up while most people are still in bed, around 6 am, and walk around the top deck taking in the views and the sunrise.

Friendly ship staff

The staff were really friendly and loved Joshua.

Milk, yoghurts and fruit to start the day

It was a great opportunity to try Joshua with different foods.  For baby food and yoghurts you need to ask a member of staff as they are kept in a separate refrigerator for your child’s’ health and safety.

I can’t resist a cooked breakfast on a cruise

Captain Charlie Carr is more than happy to pose for a photo with Joshua.

The public areas on deck have plenty of space to move around, and there is a large covered bar and seating area.

A big hit with the kids is the poolside grill that serves pizza, burgers, hot dogs and ice cream.

Larger balconies, but not so private.

Balcony cabins on decks C and D are larger than most, however, bear in mind that you can be overlooked by those looking down from upper decks.

Ships and Champagne

Award-winning restaurant The Glasshouse

One of my favourite places onboard the Ventura is The Glasshouse.  Writer, tv presenter and sommelier Olly Smith who can be seen on Saturday Kitchen and This Morning, has developed a menu of 32 wines which can be paired with specially crafted dishes in this uniquely designed wine bar-restaurant.

Learning about wines and food pairing in The Glasshouse

I was keen to attend the wine pairing seminar, which was held on a sea day at 11.30 am.  As there is no childcare available during the day for under 3’s, I was concerned about what to do with Joshua.  The staff in the Glasshouse reassured me that I could bring him along, and if he became disruptive they would take care of him!

If only this would catch on back home

I had to take a quick photo before they handed him back to me.  The staff were lovely.

Lost? This should help.

If you are worried about getting lost, you will find one of these deck plans by the lifts and stairs on each deck.

Light lunch

Feeling indecisive about what to have from the lunchtime buffet, I decided to try a little bit of everything!

Bon Voyage Croatia

Ready to sail away from Dubrovnik with a cheeky margarita.

Dress Code

There is usually a couple of formal nights onboard, however it only compulsory to wear formal clothes if you are dining in one of the restaurants.  For those people who prefer to stay in shorts and tee shirts, there is plenty to choose from in the self-service buffet.

Marco Pierre White provides the Gala dinner menu

Formal night menu included a menu by Marco Pierre White.

 

Don’t forget your Towelwizz

There is plenty of space around the pool to be able to move the sun loungers around.  A must-have accessory is a Towelwizz band, which keeps your towel in place and doubles up as a luggage strap.

The baby splash pool (far left) with surrounded with perspective glass for extra safety.

Nappies and Swimming

If you are cruising with a baby in nappies are not allowed in the main pools due to strict health and safety procedures that apply to cruise ships.  I believe it’s something to do with the chlorine levels allowed onboard being lower than those at public pools.  Not all ships have splash pools for babies, however, Ventura does and it is at the back of the ship next to the kids’ clubs.

Cruising into Venice along the Grand Canal

Sailing into Venice is hard to explain, but those who have done it say it is by far the best port to sail in or out of for breathtaking views.

Stunning views of Venice

Cruising along the Grand Canal while relaxing on a sun lounger or having a dip in the pool, is pretty hard to beat.

Marco Pierre White’s onboard restaurant The White Room

Mum and I spent our last night with a meal in Marco Pierre White’s onboard restaurant, while the sun set over Venice.

Quality mother and daughter time.

Recommended Reading Cruise People – Family Cruising – The Bruce-Low’s