A Sailors’ Life For Lee
Lee Mudkins, is the Guest Relations Manager onboard Fred Olsen’s Balmoral. So I wanted to find out what life at sea is really like and to get some good insider tips.
How long have you worked onboard ships?
I have been on board cruise ships for nearly 4 years now but have spent 12 years working in the cruise industry. I took the plunge so to speak and love every minute of it. New places and new friends make it special.
Can you give us an idea of a typical day in the life of a Guest Relations Manager?
No two days are the same. I can be hosting a table of beautiful ladies or escorting guests in port. You never know what to expect and I am on call 24 hours a day for any guest related issues and emergencies. Generally though I get to chat with our guests and make sure their holidays are ones to remember.
Sounds like the perfect job. When was your first cruise? Which ship was it and where did you cruise too?
My first cruise was back in 2008 and was aboard P&O Ventura. I had won a competition and was really excited. We did a 7 day Norwegian Fjord cruise, it was amazing and I made some great friends despite travelling as a solo. I am still friends with a few of these people to this day. The casino was my friend… I won on the last night a large amount and this paid all my bar bill and excursions for the whole trip, Happy days!
What would you say makes Fred Olsen Cruise Lines different to other cruise lines?
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is a unique company without all the razzmataz of the big liners. I love the friendliness of the crew and management and of course the wonderful guests that sail with us. Oh, and the food. Put it this way, when I went to sea I was a 32 inch waist now I’m pushing a 38 so that must say something.
What did you like about your first cruise?
I loved the way I woke up on a different day somewhere new and exciting, the unknown was drawing me in. The food of course was to die for, and the entertainment laid on made sure I never felt bored. I made lots of friends and really got the cruise bug.
What is the best cruise you have been on and why?
This year I took a 26 day cruise to Bermuda for the America’s Cup, wow! What an experience, we spent 4 nights in Bermuda during the racing, weather was stunning and I even got to do a tour on a private VIP boat on the course for the final. A truly memorable experience and getting there on a cruise was even more special.
What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
Everyday is a different day, travelling the world but only unpacking once. Meeting a variety of new people regularly and making long lasting friendships. I have a couple of friends Enzo & Carolyn, who were on a cruise with me a number of years back, they are great people and we stay in contact and occasionally meet up for lunches out and stuff, it’s always good to have friends like them.
Do you have a bucket list of places you want to visit?
Canada has to be high up on my list at present, to watch the autumn fall would be a dream. Also, a trip to Boston and New York. I need to get myself to Macy’s and spend some cash!
What’s the first thing you do when you step onboard a cruise?
I investigate the ship, find my way around by getting lost and making sure I then know my way around, I then tend to find a bar with a good view and order a swanky cocktail of some description, that gets my cruise off to a good start.
What was your last cruise and what did you like/dislike about it
I’ve just returned from a River Cruise in Egypt, we had a great time, but you can clearly see that tourism has dropped in that part of the world. The experience was magical however and for sure I would return.
What is your next cruise? What are you most looking forward to?
I have friends joining me on a mini jaunt to Roeun in France, and we have some tours to do there which will enhance the experience. I am looking forward to mingling with everybody.
Can you offer any onboard tips for people who have never cruised?
Read the daily programme and plan your days, it is invaluable. You get to see what is happening all around the ship and can join in with anything that takes your fancy. Don’t be shy, make friends and just enjoy yourself.
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise.
By booking on-board you can often get better deals and discounts as well as extra’s and this of course can be returned to your travel agent so you can keep consistency. It’s a hard line to find the right time to book, I always find the more unique trips sell out fast so you have to be quick.
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?
Go for it! There is plenty of space if you want to find yourself space, plenty of people to assist wherever you may turn, and I truly believe they would never look back.