Giles Hawke – Avalon and Cosmos

Giles Hawke

Where Does Avalon Waterways CEO Giles Hawke Like To Go On Holiday?

For those of you who are not familiar with Giles Hawke, let me put you in the picture. He was Head of Sales for P&O Cruises, then became Executive Director for MSC Cruises, and is now the Chief Executive Officer for Avalon Waterways and Cosmos. So to kick off #CruiseMonth let’s get up close and personal with Giles Hawke and find out what makes him tick.

How did you come to work in the Cruise Industry and what was your first job?

My first job in travel was as a nightporter in a hotel in Chamonix straight after I finished my degree. I joined the cruise industry in 2001 as Head of Sales for P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Ocean Village.

If you could have chosen anything else as a career what would it have have been?

I love the outdoors, so a ski instructor and a mountain guide would have been fantastic alternatives.

Have you been on a river cruise? If so, which one?

Yes and with Avalon river cruises out of Amsterdam – a really unique and enjoyable experience and one I will definitely repeat. Although Avalon doesn’t focus on children I could see that my children would love it and will aim to take them soon

What would you say are the benefits of river cruising?

Similar ones to ocean cruising in the sense of only unpacking once and amazing food and service. In addition there are beautiful views constantly as the scenery changes and you are always right in the heart of the destination. There is no sense of motion as you cruise, so it’s perfect for anyone who gets any level of motion sickness. So much is included in the price and the cabins on Avalon with the Panorama balconies are very special.

What makes Avalon Waterways stand out from other river cruises?

The wall to wall floor to ceiling open air balconies, the beds facing the windows, the relaxed luxury approach – no dress codes or stuffy formality but an upmarket and modern boutique hotel type experience, Avalon Active Discovery cruises focusing on much more immersive shore activities.

Jane McDonald on the balcony of her Avalon River Cruise
Jane McDonald enjoying the incredible views onboard her Avalon River Cruise. As seen in TV Series Cruising with Jane McDonald.
As CEO of two companies, what is an average ‘Day in the Life’ for you?

When I’m in the office I’m usually up at 0445 and drive 90 miles to Bromley. I try and have as many meetings and one-to-ones with my team as possible when I’m in the office and make sure I’m up to date on what is happening. I study our sales figures every morning and look for trends and insight. I do send a lot of emails day and night and over weekends, but I try and take personal time too and will aim to get some form of exercise in most days if at all possible. I usually get home around 8 at night three or four days a week but try and work from home a day a week to catch up with everything, have a lie in until 0630 and have breakfast with my family!

How did it feel to win the Cruise Line International Cruise Agent Lifetime Achievement Award?

It was a lovely accolade and I feel humbled by it and a little embarrassed as there are so many people in the cruise industry who have done so much more than me. It does make me worry that I am expected to retire now though when I’m not quite ready!

What was your last holiday?

A week in Cornwall with the family surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, walking, running, eating and drinking!

Do you have your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

Heading to Italy in October with the family to Capri, Sorrento and Pompei

Your job role must require organisation, focus and a lot of energy. Do you have any lifestyle/ personal management tips you can give us?

My approach is to aim to always be positive and look for what can be done, rather than the challenges and how difficult something is. I enjoy ambiguity and concepts and ideas and trying to bring people and ideas together. In terms of tips, I would say to always keep your email inbox manageable and make time to clear it regularly, try and deal with things once rather than prevaricate, work with people who are real experts and positive, do seat the small stuff as it is important and creates a base for the bigger stuff!

What are your hobbies?

Cycling, skiing, running and latterly swimming as I’ve taken up triathlons in the last two years. I also enjoy good food, socialising with my good friends and reading, although it takes me a long time to read a book these days as I only read when I get to bed and normally only manage a page before I’m out!

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I’d love to visit South America and do a big tour

Heli-skiing in Alaska

A Rhône river Cruise

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking their first cruise?

What are you waiting for!?

Discover River Cruising

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