Tag Archives: cruise-people

Godmother of Independence of the Seas Elizabeth Hill

Godmother of Independence of the Seas

Have you ever wondered how they pick a cruise ship Godmother? Cruise lines generally look for a Celebrity. In 2008 Royal Caribbean introduced Independence of the Seas.  At that time the vessel was the World’s largest and most innovative cruise ship.  The cruise line decided that the Godmother for their newest ship should be an ordinary woman. Someone who was doing something extraordinary in her community.

1700 entries were narrowed down to just four finalists after a nationwide search. The judging panel, including Sir Steve Redgrave, chose Elizabeth Hill as the special lady to carry the honour.

I met up with Elizabeth recently, while she was visiting relatives in their country farmhouse. It was great to hear all about her experience of becoming Godmother to the UK’s favourite Royal Caribbean ship.

How Did You Become Godmother of Independence of the Seas?

“It was a series of good connections in a way. I actually didn’t know I had been entered into the competition. Sir Steve Redgrave had retired from rowing and set up his own sports foundation which was being sponsored by Royal Caribbean, at the same time Independence of the Seas was being built. Royal Caribbean had already run a search for an “ordinary” Godmother in America and it had been very successful.”

“For the UK competition, they were asking for the public to nominate an ordinary woman who had done extraordinary things for the community. At the time I was running a charity and I guess I was pioneering what I was doing, lots of people do it now but nobody had seriously done what I was doing which is called care farming now. So my daughter who was 12 was poorly and at home one-day watching daytime tv and Sir Steve Redgrave went on This Morning and Loose Women and he put out this call on both shows I think.”

Loose Women

“All I know is that Alicia had seen Loose Women and she got on the computer and sent off this email. She said to me later “Well, I fancied a holiday Mum” However, in the email she told them that the day of the naming ceremony was her 13th Birthday.”

“Well I knew nothing about it so when they actually rang me to tell me they had sifted through thousands of entries and got down to the last six and they were doing a telephone interview, I thought one of the kids had entered me into something like Big Brother. So I said “Oh I am really sorry I don’t do reality television” and they said “No no no don’t put the phone down let me explain what it is” so then they explained and I was gobsmacked because I had no concept of it, I had not seen it, I had no idea about the ship and cruising was not in my experience, I knew nothing about this at all. I explained this to the woman that rang me, and she thought it was hilarious.”

6 out of 1700

“She asked if she could go through some questions as they had got 1700 entries down to six but were trying to narrow it down to four. So she asked me a series of questions and that was it as far as I was concerned.”

“A few days later I got a phone call and they said, “have you got a passport because we’ve narrowed it down to four and we’d like to take you to Finland to see the ship and the handover”.

“I was shocked again. But the funny thing was after I said “yes that would be fantastic”, I went to get my passport and it was out of date! So it was a mad dash to the passport office to get all the stuff within two days.”

Private Jet

“We got down to Stansted and were flown in a private jet to Finland, the four of us and Richard Fain were onboard. That was fabulous because we were in this private jet and he talked to all of us. He tended to talk to me more than the others and I know why because my husband is a farmer but he also loves engines and engineering, so he had asked me all sorts of questions about the ship which I asked Richard Fain. Richard Fain is not just the Chair, he likes to take interest in every little part of it and particularly the engineering side of it. He spent most of the time explaining to me in great detail about the engines, what sort of engines they were, the stabilisers, and all the innovative things that were on this ship. It was absolutely fascinating, he knew everything.”

“When we arrived, Captain Tao met us and we went on board the ship”.

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

Was this your first time on a cruise ship?

“Absolutely I had never seen anything like it, I’d never even seen one! Yes, It was gobsmacking I absolutely could not believe the size of this ship. It was so fabulous, so beautiful, such a fabulous feat of engineering and I just thought it was absolutely wonderful”.

“I got chatting to Captain Tao and told him I had a daughter. He also has a daughter the same age as Alicia and his family were farmers so we had some things in common. Things just fitted into place”.

“We had a wonderful night onboard and we were at this lovely ball and had a meal to celebrate the handover ceremony from the Shipyard to the Americans. We were all involved in that and had been told to take an evening dress so it was fabulous.”

Sir Steve Redgrave

“Then we came back. We weren’t flown back on the jet but went back to the office in England and were interviewed by the panel with Sir Steve Redgrave. He was really interested in what I did, which was to have kids who had been excluded from school coming up onto the farm and we were doing recognised qualifications with them without them knowing that they were actually doing it. They weren’t in a classroom we were doing literacy, numeracy in all sorts of innovative ways that involved animals, tractors, Land Rovers, woodwork, metalwork and all those sorts of things.”

Gamelea Farm – The Care Farm that Elizabeth and her husband ran to help young people learn through farming.

“They were mainly boys all of whom had been in trouble with the police. Most of them had got tags on. We were just being very successful because they didn’t want to be in a classroom, they hated being in a classroom and it wasn’t meeting their needs and we ended up giving them skills to go and get jobs which a lot of them did. So a lot of them just needed somebody to find what they were interested in and tap into that.”

“Throughout the whole experience we were treated so wonderfully well and the other three were lovely, lovely women. So that would have been enough for me because I’d had this exciting few days, it was fabulous.”

The Phone Call

“They said they would let us know the outcome the following day. At about 8 am the next morning I had a telephone call to tell me I had won but it didn’t enter my head that I had actually won. I thought someone else had won. I said oh that’s absolutely fabulous, I had such a lovely time oh please send her my congratulations. She said no Its YOU. I said me? Oh!  She said yes we have rung you early because when we release it, we think you might be inundated. We have spoken to the local television crew, we’ve spoken to the local radio we’ve spoken to the local newspaper, we think you are going to be inundated... and yes we were.”

“The television crew were there around about 9 o’clock and local radio station arrived shortly after.  Talk about fifteen minutes of fame, well I certainly had it. It literally was madness, being thrown into this world that I had no experience of whatsoever.”

“Then it was only a few days until the naming ceremony. They said put your list together of guests you would like to bring. So I said obviously I would like to bring my husband and my daughter. It’s our second marriage so we’ve got children from other marriages. So we ended up bringing our own parents, who were alive then, and our extended family and their partners. I can’t remember how many of us there were but possibly at least 15 of us.

Presidential Suite

Edward (my husband) and I, my Mum and sister, Edward’s parents and Alicia and her friend, were all put in the Presidential Suite and all the rest of the family were in nice suites not far away. They all used our suite. It was one big party for my family because literally as one bottle of champagne was emptied they had another one. I don’t drink so it was wasted on me, but I didn’t get to be part of the party because once I got onboard I just had time to do my things in my cabin and then I had to go through the rehearsal. Sir Steve Redgrave was held up so we didn’t have time to go through the whole rehearsal. I actually pressed the red button on stage and broke the champagne in the rehearsal, so I did it twice!”

Photo Credit: Royal Caribbean

The Ceremony

“They do it from the stage electronically so you see the champagne smashing on the hull of the ship from a big screen. It’s a spectacular thing to be part of its total razzmatazz. What they had forgotten to do is tell me I had to say something and I hadn’t even got a speech or anything.

So Richard Fain actually called Alicia up onto the stage because it was her birthday and got everyone to sing her happy birthday to her and he gave her a little pendant with a heart and a diamond in it and then he gave me a diamond brooch and I just said thank you and went and sat down.

Then Captain Tao said to me it’s your turn to say something now. Anyway I don’t know how my legs carried me back to the front of the stage. I have absolutely no idea and apparently, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, so I didn’t say very much but what I said was very emotional for people.

A Celebrity

They always have celebrities like footballers and television people that you see on a regular basis, Coronation Street people, there were quite a few faces that I recognised and I signed my autograph for them. My family was getting people’s autographs and they were getting mine which was funny.”

“After that, we went to a cocktail party, and the owner of the shipyard was there and they presented me with a gold and diamond necklace, and there was a little plaque in the box saying who I am and what I did and that was a real surprise that was wonderful. Then we went off and had the dinner and Richard Fain sat one side of me and Sir Steve Redgrave sat the other.”

“I’ve always been treated extremely well and when I speak to some of the seasoned people their ambition has always been to work for Royal Caribbean because they always say its best.”

What are you doing now?

“I take my job as Godmother seriously. I do get some perks so I try to give back wherever I can, by answering things on blogs or giving talks to ladies groups, I feel then that I’m not getting something for nothing.”

“I still get involved in Voluntary work. I am involved with our local church, I’m the president of our WI, I run and organise an older peoples group and I volunteer for home start. I may be retired but I still want to do things so I do something for the local community and its good because I meet new friends.”

“Because I am on the speaker circuit for the WI, I do go around and do a talk Five Things I Learned from being Godmother of the Independence.”

“I know that some people have booked cruises as a direct result of my talk. Because my husband has Parkinson’s Disease, I do a talk to the Parkinson’s group.  I explain to people that being disabled is brilliant being on a ship. There are plenty of things to do onboard if you don’t want to get off the ship and there is food 24 hours a day.”

Godmother Duty

“When I am on board the staff are always trying to do nice things for me like get the best table and I say no no no I am going to do my Godmother duty and I am going to sit at shared tables and talk to people every night. If I’m in a really nice suite I will invite people back who aren’t in suites for afternoon tea so they can see what a suite is like and once we were lucky enough to have the Presidential Suite I invited loads of people back. I want Royal Caribbean to think that they have chosen the right person.”

Royal Treatment

“When I get onboard they always meet me I never have to queue to get on board. I’m always escorted off, so they do treat me in a very special way. And they always say if we are in Southampton that we must come onboard.

So the crew very much want me onboard and there is a huge superstition which is quite interesting because one of the officers saw me and said oh The Godmother, the Godmother, Elizabeth I can say good morning to you in person because I always say good morning to your picture and he said he and his partner do that and it brings us good luck and it’s true because one day I was so busy and I didn’t do it and my day was such a terrible day that I never want to do that again.”

“Because there’s a huge superstition around it. The Godmother is supposed to be keeping the ship safe, she is the mother that keeps the ship safe. That’s how I interpret it. I’ve researched it and that’s the best I can find. If you go back to the days of the Vikings they used to have women carved on the front. Its always a woman and the ship is always female. They really do take it very seriously.”

Have You Kept In Contact With Any of Your Care Farm Children?

“We are still in touch with some of them and they still come and visit us it’s great they’ve got jobs and homes and families and we’re really proud of that and I did it for nearly twenty years and in that time we were employing 20 people so it was pretty big.”

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

“Do it because it suits everybody from the youngest to the eldest. People are very surprised what its like, the fact that you get all this wonderful treatment. It’s better than all your top-class hotels. You don’t have to get off the ship if you don’t want to. Your holiday starts as soon as you get on board the ship.”

Cruise Like A Godmother

Elizabeth started a blog. This gives insights into her daily life as well as stories of her role as a Godmother. You can subscribe to Elizabeth’s blog and read articles here

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to work as a Cruise Director? In this interview, Marc Walker tells us all about it. Cruise People – Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean

Cruise People – Sheri Griffiths Cruise Tips TV

Sheri Griffiths is the face of Cruise Tips TV. A huge fan of cruising herself, Sheri provides cruisers with answers to all their questions in her YouTube show. She has a great personality and I wanted to know more about her life off-camera.

When was your first cruise?

My first cruise was onboard Carnival Ecstasy in 1991. My Mom accompanied me on a Caribbean cruise as a high school graduation present, along with my little brother. I loved the experience but longed for the time when I’d be able to cruise with my future husband. The best part of the cruise was the resort scuba dive in Grand Cayman. My Mom let me go alone (with a ship sponsored excursion), and it was one of the highlights of my “under 20” life.

Finally, that next cruise happened in 2003 (or so) after my husband I had been married for about 6 years. I was so excited to share the experience with him after scraping and saving for years, but WOW, had cruising changed. Diamond Princess was HUGE, and he was instantly hooked. We’ve never looked back, and cruise as often as we can. We still DO love a good land vacation on occasion as well.

How many cruises have you taken so far?

Somewhere around 28 total to The Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska, Canada & New England.  We’ve sailed with Carnival, Princess, Holland America, NCL, and Royal Caribbean.

Sheri Griffiths – Cruise Tips TV enjoying the beach with her son

How long have you been doing Cruise Tips TV?

We’re in our 5th year of production. We have just over 350 videos for cruisers, ranging from packing tips to ship tours, and cruise vlogs.

How did Cruise Tips TV come about?

Our channel was born over a dinner table conversation. As cruise lovers, we would always film our trips, shore excursions and activities and create short movies, to preserve the memories. It occurred to us (one evening over chicken casserole!) that we could also create and share information, tips and even full ship video tours, so we decided to take the plunge and chose YouTube as our platform.

Travel had always been the “prime directive” in our family, so it seemed like a natural step to bust out our film equipment and share our passion with the internet world. We’ve changed our approach, style and content many times over the years, based on subscriber feedback and changes in our lives.

How many shows do you do a week? And how long does it take to prepare for each one?

We generally produce two shows per week. Each show takes a minimum of an hour of content prep time. Some episodes can take up to 4 hours of prep time, depending on the amount of research involved. Really, it’s the editing that is time-intensive. Mr Cruise Tips TV edits our content full time and still wishes he had more hours in every day. We try to involve our son in the process when we can. He is learning basic editing skills and helps with ideas. Sometimes, we give him his own camera to vlog with on cruises. He loves the KidCam!

What is an average day in the life for you?

I wake up at 5:15 am, hobble to my kitchen for coffee, and head off to my day job. My husband is self-employed and works from home, so I’m fortunate to have his help with the day-to-day. He does all the laundry, cleans the house, and makes sure that our son is well cared for during the week.

When I get home from work, I squeeze in dinner with my boys, catch up on social media, take a hot bath, and get ready to do it all again the next day. On the weekend, my primary focus is to spend time with my son, get as much exercise and outdoor time as possible, and go live on YouTube every other Saturday.

Sheri on the bridge of Star Princess

Do you have any tips for people thinking about starting their own YouTube channel?

Tip #1:

Be true to yourself. Mr CTTV likes to say “keep your head down”, meaning, don’t look at what other people are doing to develop your content. BE YOURSELF, and don’t compare your ideas and content to others. People want to watch YOU because you offer something unique and individual. At the same time, it’s easy to delay starting a YouTube channel, because it can feel at times like “it’s all been done” already. News Flash – it has! But, you should still go for it!

Tip #2:

Consider whether you can be of service to others. The longer we’ve been creating content through our channel, the more we’ve realized the joy in being a resource. Those people then become a great resource for YOU. Our community of cruise enthusiasts bring ideas and tips to us week after week. We also count on them for honest feedback at times.

Tip #3:

Be Real. When we started our channel, I wanted to read from a teleprompter every episode and sought to control every element of production. As time went by, our subscribers asked us to turn the camera around and vlog our cruises. I thought the notion was crazy. Each time the topic came up, my husband and I would look at each other and say “naaah, nobody wants to see that. It’s too real”. Then, in September of 2016, we finally jumped out of our cosy studio and turned that camera around to capture the day to day of our cruise through vlogs.

As we’ve learned more about what our audience wants since that first cruise, one theme always surfaces. They want authenticity, to see when things don’t go as planned and without makeup (aaah!). The audience want to be told when a shore excursion or experience falls short. They want to trust you to deliver the true experience.

Tip #4:

Expect to evolve. Listen to your audience (not to the trolls, of course) and consider if their suggestions can work for you. You can’t make everyone happy, but the more you expect to re-invent your content often, while staying true to being yourself, the more you can experiment and land on what works.

Sheri with her son in Ketchikan, Alaska

What was your last holiday?

My last holiday was a partial transit through the Panama Canal on Caribbean Princess. It was 10 days of heaven!

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

Our next cruise is on Carnival Splendor, to the Mexican Riviera.

Being a Mum with 2 jobs must require organisation and focus? What is one thing you do that really helps?

I’m a huge list maker. I use my iPhone to make lists for every area of my life, from packing to my weekly objectives to ideas for our next episode.

What are your hobbies?

I love hiking, Zumba, gardening and cooking.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

A holiday to Tahiti and her islands. I must see Bora Bora. We’ve been dreaming of this destination since we were married.

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

I’d encourage them to research, but not to over plan. Pack comfortable shoes. Choose the right cruise line, and…watch lots of YouTube videos.  We have lots of content for newbies!

Recommended Reading 5 Tips on How To Get Free Cruises

Interview with Stacy Shaw – Virgin Voyages

“I do work pretty hard.

It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.” Stacy Shaw

Stacy Shaw is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. When Stacy and I met at the #Shiptease event in Genoa last year, I asked if she would answer some questions for my Cruise People series. Thankfully she agreed, so lets find out more about Stacy Shaw.

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

After grad school, I moved from West Virginia to Florida… I was pretty tired of winter weather and wanted to be near my sister. We had been prepped by the Dean of Business & Economics, that it may take time to find a job. So I reached out to a recruiter as soon as I arrived, with the idea that I would wait tables for a while and enjoy some down time.

He sent me for an interview right away for an Accounting position that happened to be at a cruise line. I didn’t intend to start working in a office so quickly but it sounded pretty glamorous (the cruise line part), so I changed my plans. I lasted in that particular job for about six months before I got a little bored (sorry, Accountants) but it was the start to what would become a 23-year (and counting) career in travel and hospitality.

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

I love animals so if I was better at science, I might have been a veterinarian. I always knew I would work in some sort of business, I just didn’t know what. Before I started in this industry, I had traveled to five states … never once out of my time zone.

I’ve now visited many states in all US times zones and more than 65 countries. I have found the education that comes from learning about other people and cultures invaluable and I think it made me a better person. I’m very happy with how things worked out!

Stacy with Boy George at the Virgin Voyages Shiptease

What makes Virgin Voyages stand out from other cruises?

People often ask which cruise line we will be most like and I find it impossible to answer that question. Our goal is to be unlike any other … to create a new category and be the only one in it. We’ve looked more to cool, hip hotel and land experiences for inspiration, so I think you’ll find it very easy to see what makes us stand out … when we can talk about that.

As VP of Sales and Business Development for Virgin Voyages, what is an average day like for you?

We’re a start-up so every day is pretty busy and very different. I try to learn something about Virgin or the other Virgin companies however and whenever I can. We have some great resources in the company who have worked for other Virgin brands, so I’m like a sponge around them. For now, we’ve been putting a strong foundation in place.

So I’ve been working on things like sales and distribution strategy, org charts and operating budgets … thinking about how we can be irresistible to our partners! I’ve also been working on finding a rock star leadership team in sales so there’s been a lot of Skype calls and interviews. We’re so fortunate to have a lot of interest when we post our gigs and we’re very focused on finding the perfect fit for every role.

What was your last holiday?

I tend to do more mini-holidays or weekend getaways than long vacations. I love exploring new places, most recently I went to Nashville for the weekend. It was great … the food, the nightlife, the music, the service, the people … I can’t wait until Virgin Hotels Nashville opens. I’m definitely going back.

I also did my first river cruise last year over New Years with a group of friends and loved that. Prague to Budapest on the Danube with AMA Waterways. We visited four countries that I hadn’t been to before (Czech Republic, Hungary, Germany and Austria) … all amazing. I would like to do another river cruise to the wine regions in France. And I love going to Spain any chance I get.

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

I do. I’m going on a safari in South Africa with the same group of friends this summer. We’ll also spend a few days in Cape Town and visit some beautiful wineries. I did a safari in Kenya years ago but it was a site inspection with clients. Still, it was one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever taken but I’m very excited to do it again with people I love. That will be really special and a lot of fun.

Stacy hosts VIP Travel Partners at the Keel Laying Ceremony in Genoa.

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

I feel very lucky to be in an industry that I love and working for Virgin is a dream come true for me. It’s hard to think about what I do as “work”. I get paid to do the most amazing things and to think about ways that our company can make the world a better place. Don’t get me wrong, I do work pretty hard. It’s just that I don’t usually notice because I’m having a good time.

At Virgin Voyages, we’re creating something really special and I’m surrounded by the most creative, inspiring group of people. It’s hard not to be excited about anything I do in that environment. I would say the things that have helped me most in my career is a never-ending desire to learn, genuinely caring about the people involved with our business, always delivering on commitments, being respectful and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done without hesitation. Oh, and coffee, that helps a lot with focus and energy!

What are your hobbies?

I read and research a lot. More articles and historical info than novels … most everything online. I like to start my day with time to read (and drink coffee). I love learning new things and I like to understand a variety of viewpoints. Obviously, I love to travel and I do as much of that as I can. I’m interested in languages. I speak Spanish fairly well and know bits of Italian and French that I’ve picked up through travel. I find that people genuinely appreciate an attempt to speak to them in their language even if it isn’t perfect. I also enjoy trying local food and drinks wherever I am … always looking for a great restaurant.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Well, I think I’ve got the career and travel things covered. And I’ve met Richard Branson. So I guess the only thing left is an epic love story.

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

I would say take a voyage instead. 🙂

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Cruise People – Marc Walker – Royal Caribbean

What’s Life Like For A Cruise Director?

I recently had the opportunity to meet Marc Walker who is currently the Cruise Director onboard Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas. I’ve always thought it would be such a great job to do, but after speaking to Marc in person, I think I’ll stick to sipping cocktails by the pool while someone else does all the hardwork.

How long have you been a Cruise Director?

I was promoted to Cruise Director in January 2001 after being with the company for 4 years. This is my 22nd year with Royal Caribbean, 17 of them as Cruise Director.

How did you end up working onboard Royal Caribbean ships?

I was a DJ back in England, and when I worked at Butlin’s I met people who worked for Royal Caribbean. At that time there were only 12 ships in the fleet, and there was no no such thing as the internet. So it was purely word of mouth and sending resumes off. A juggler, who still works for us, told me to apply to Royal Caribbean as a DJ. I had never heard of Royal Caribbean, I said Royal who? This was in England and they weren’t even in England at that point, they were just sailing out of the Caribbean. So I got a job interview in London, I was offered the job as cruise staff which is what you do. You call bingo and you socialise, you start at the bottom. My first ship was the Viking Serenade in 19 July 1996.

1996 Marc’s first contract as cruise staff, with Fernando Castro on Viking Serenade

How long do you spend onboard the cruiseship at a time?

We usually do four months on two months off, but depending on business needs or if you have a holiday request it can be longer or shorter. I am doing four months on here then I am going to take only five days off, then I go to our bigger ship the Harmony of the Seas. At the end of the year I’ll be going to our brand new ship the Symphony of the Seas and will take the ship to Miami for the Inaugural Christening.

Do you get to see your family at all when you are working?

Never when I am working because my wife and two kids live in Florida. But they are going to be cruising at the end of November for a one off cruise. Lily will be in school and she is five, so she can only come a few times a year. But they usually have to wait until I get home, which will be January for five days.

I keep reading on social media that you are Roy ‘Catchphrase’ Walker’s son. Is this true? 

I’ve actually met Roy, he does a few comedy shows onboard. He is really nice but I am not related despite the same name.

What is the average Day In The Life for you when you are at work?

8 o’clock every morning my day starts, that’s seven days a week and I usually take a couple of hours off in the afternoon. We call it international nap time where crew members have to sleep for a couple of hours in the day. Then my shift starts again at 4pm until midnight or 1 o’clock in the morning. So 8am until about 1 or 2pm is paperwork and meetings, then the evening is shows, socialising, being out there.

Have you met any Celebrities onboard, and if so can you give us some names?

John Travolta came onboard once. We looked after him for 4 days. He is a really nice man. And Donny Osmond in 2004.

What is your favourite meal onboard?

I should eat salads but I don’t. On this ship I like the roasts because you don’t get them in America. So I go to the Windjammer and have my roasts whenever I can. And then when I go Stateside I just have to have the Mongolian stir fry.

What is your favourite port of call?

Geiranger Fjords.

Do you have any hobbies?

I do flight simulator. I have the joystick, the yoke and the foot pedals and I bring them with me. So I do transatlantic flights when I go to bed at night, and when I wake up I’m landing (laughs). Its very soothing. It sends me off.

Your job is very demanding. Do you have any tips you can share that help you stay energetic, healthy and in shape?

You have to pace yourself especially at my ripe old age of 46. It gets harder the older you get and the ships are getting bigger which is harder to handle, harder to manage. So it’s all in the mind. You can get so stressed out so quickly and it will kill your career. You just have to really take a step back, focus on what the most important things are and then keep everything in a waiting file, don’t do everything at once. But the most important thing is being out there with the guests. If you’ve got that covered then everything else will follow. But we have two jobs, we have administration and we have front of house. There’s no job like it, you have to be good at everything.

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

Television. I actually have a part time job with Home Shopping Network it’s QVC. So when I’m in Florida for a few weeks I tell them I’m coming and they give me a couple of shows. I love it because you are on live television to 97 million people.

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Cruise People – Michael English – Celebrity Cruises

Michael English Talks About The Importance of Teamwork and Communication

Celebrity Cruises recently scooped a massive four awards at this years TTG Awards Ceremony in London. Add this together with the industry buzz around the brand new Celebrity Edge, and I wanted to find out what life is like for the Celebrity Cruises Business Development Team at the moment. Here’s Michael English, Head of Business Development UK & Ireland to Summit up!

As Head of Business Development, what is an average day life for you?

The first thing is that no two days are ever same in my role.

I believe I have the best role in the sales team having so much variation. My role can include anything from dealing with our top producing accounts, working with our award winning sales team – to working on new initiatives to get more new guests to cruise with Celebrity Cruises.

Celebrity Cruises walked away with an incredible four TTG Awards this year. Luxury/Specialist Cruise Line of the Year, Ocean Cruise Line of the Year, Supplier Sales Team of the Year, Travel Company of the Year. Can you give an insight into what you believe drove the success of Celebrity to achieving so many awards?

First of all I must say a huge thank you to every trade partner who voted for Celebrity Cruises and the awards are a true reflection, recognition and direction that Celebrity Cruises are taking. Working with Travel Partners is vital to our success as we look to bring cruises holidays to a new groups of guests.

What was your last holiday?

I’m writing this on my flight down to Miami with my son, where we are spending the weekend catching up with friends and attending a couple of sporting events there.

It very important to me that I have the right balance between work and personal life – so this is Dad and son weekend in Miami.

How did it feel to win the CLIA Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry award?

This was a huge surprise! It was a real honour to be presented with the award. To be recognised by your colleagues and travel industry partners is a very special award.

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

Listen – to what people are saying. God gave us two ears and one mouth not two mouths and one ear.

Communication – Is key to every solution.

What are your hobbies?

I’m on a quest to continue to climb various mountains summits. So far I have completed Snowdon, Ben Nevis, Scarfell Pike, Kota Kinablua/ Kiimanjaro/ Island Peak Nepal/ Mont Blanc/ Machu Picchu/ and next one will be India highest summit.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Summit Everest and Sky Dive

To get the latest news on Celebrity Edge and find great offers go to celebritycruises.co.uk

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Richard Twynam – Azamara Club Cruises

In Pursuit of Richard Twynham

Find out how Azamara Club Cruises’ Managing Director Richard Twynam took 70 flights in a year and still managed to find time for exercise, family and golf.

How did you end up working in the Cruise Industry and what was your first job?

I applied for a job in the Sunday Times to be Managing Director of Virgin Holidays Cruises in 2010, which somehow I got.

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

A Professional Golfer.

What makes Azamara Club Cruises stand out from other cruises?

We have a single minded focus on destination first.

As Managing Director of Azamara Club Cruises, what is an average day in the life for you?

What I like is that there is no average day if you like. But most Tuesdays are made up of one to ones with the sales folks in the morning, followed by trading meeting at lunchtime, followed by various internal meetings in the afternoon. Then there will be events to attend every week.

I travel a lot in my role throughout the UK, Europe and to HQ in Miami, so am on a plane most weeks, I did over 70 flights for work last year which was exceptional.

What was your last holiday?

A week in Crete with my family in May, and staycation with the family in September.

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

A long Christmas break to visit our family in California!

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

Key things for me are balance and I’ve learned this year the power of fitness too, thanks to my wife who is a yoga teacher.

So we have a couple of simple rules.

No tech upstairs at home.  No phones, no tv’s, no tablets. Bedtime is about switching off.

There is always time for exercise. We have 2 tiny children, so we have a trainer come to the house at 7am whilst the kids eat their breakfast!!

What are your hobbies?

Being a dad, golf when I can and keeping fit. We have a large garden so I love tinkering with that.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

The Cook Islands and a drive across Canada.

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

It’s like any holiday, don’t over complicate it, keep it simple, choose your destination first, and then what type of cruise, and always use a travel professional that will sell you what is right for you.

To browse the beautiful itineraries Azamara Club Cruises have to offer, go to https://www.azamaraclubcruises.com/

Cruise People – Gary Bembridge

Gary Bembridge Talks About What Makes Cruising So Magical

Having recently picked up yet another award for his blog Tips For Travellers, Gary Bembridge tells us how he became hooked on cruising and gives some vital tips for newcomers.

How long have you been writing Tips for Travellers?

I started Tips For Travellers as a podcast in September 2005 and soon added a YouTube channel when that opened in 2006, followed by the blog around the same time.

What made you start it?

I had a global marketing job for a multi-national (Johnson & Johnson) and was travelling all over the world for around three weeks a month. I would try and stay a day or two either side of my work in every place I went to. As I had so little time there, I would research the destination like crazy before I went so I knew what to see, do and how to get around. I thought since I had all the content overlaid with my experiences that I should share it as it would likely be helpful to others. It took off quickly as there were not a lot of travel podcasts or content on YouTube back then. As of today my YouTube channel has 30.2 million views and the podcast over 1.5 million downloads.

Wow, that’s an incredible achievement. So what is an average day in the life for you?

I retired from corporate life in 2012 when I turned 55 and so I do not have a very typical day nowadays, and I can pretty much do as I please which is fantastic. I travel quite often of course and so that is never typical, but if at home I tend to go to the gym in the morning around 8 / 8.30, head to Starbucks and have a coffee while catching up on emails and then head home and spend a few hours writing, editing videos or doing podcasts and then binge watch TV before getting evening meal ready for my partner and I (as he still works full-time as a corporate lawyer and works long hours).

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

My first cruise was a work one. I was invited to speak at a marketing conference being held on board P&O Cruises Aurora. The ship was chartered every year and hosted marketing directors and marketing services companies. We sailed from Southampton and docked near Guernsey. It was just two nights but as we sailed down the Solent and out to sea I realised what was magical about cruising.

What made you book your first cruise?

I was one of those that thought cruising was not for me. So having been “made” to try it through the conference I was speaking at on board “Aurora” I realised it was fantastic. Since a boy I had ways wanted to travel on iconic transportation and so once I realised I like being at sea I immediately booked a crossing on the QE2.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

The feeling of heading out to sea and the peacefulness of being at sea. That as a revelation to me. Gliding through the ocean with nothing around thrilled me. There were only a couple of things I disliked. One was the  fixed time and seating dining, so I now try and only cruise where there is open seated dining.  The other thing is the constant selling. I soon realised that the model for many lines is to get people on ships at attractive fares and then sell and add on charges and you have to keep getting your cruise card out. I tend to prefer and try to cruise more on all-inclusive lines if I can.

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

Silversea Silver Explorer to the Arctic. It was incredible. Sailing right into the polar ice cap and exploring places hardly any people go to felt special, unique and we saw amazing wildlife. I am a keen photographer and like photographing wildlife and landscapes and so this was just perfect for that. It was also a luxurious and an attentive way to see the place. There were 120 passengers and basically the same amount of crew, with 15 being the Expedition team.

Image: Gary Bembridge

Sounds absolutely amazing. What is it that appeals to you about cruising in general?

Travelling has become very stressful and time-consuming. Flying especially. I like to see lots of places when on a trip rather than staying in one place as I want to see and do so much, and so cruising makes that easy and much less stressful. The cruises I like most, are the ones that take me to regions and places I have not been to so I can get a flavour of them and decide where to go back to explore much more. I also like that cruises can take me to and let me experience things you cannot really do easily other ways like the Arctic, Alaska, Panama Canal, Antarctica and so on.

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

Antarctica, Alaska (going there in May 2018) and Polynesian Islands

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

Eat! Usually one boards after my usual lunchtime and so am starving after travelling there. Then I run about the ship taking it all in. I love exploring ships and finding out what they have to offer.

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

My music and speakers. I love music and have to have it playing all the time and so always take my portable BEATS speakers so I can have good quality music through the cruise. I also always take earplugs and eye shades as I sleep best with them. The other item I always take is a tooth repair kit as while you can get medical help on board, there is no dentist and it can be an ordeal if something goes wrong on sea days or based on the ports and days of week you are calling on. It has helped me big time!

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

Windstar Gaelic Explorers from Edinburgh to Dublin. I prefer being on small ships and this is a luxury experience but very informal and friendly. The cabins are huge, food good and really interesting people and crew. Getting into smaller and more unusual places is another plus. Dislike was probably that the fitness centre is a bit dated and has low ceilings so they cannot fit a cross trainer in which is my cardio of choice!

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

Heading off shortly on Avalon Waterways Rhine cruise from Cologne to Amsterdam. I have only been on a handful of river cruises and keen to see what they offer and how they are different. River cruise lines do seem to be fairly similar and offer much the same thing and so eager to try different ones and see what they do well. This is something that my followers and audience also like to hear so I know it will be welcome content for them too.

What is your dream cruise?

I did 10 weeks of a world voyage in 2016 and we want to do a whole world cruise in the next few years. It was such a remarkable experience and we met and made some great friends as there were such interesting people and crew. doing the world voyage.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

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?

You won’t! Everyone thinks that and once they go they all come back saying their biggest frustration was not having time to do everything there was to do. I always say that if you are worried, remember that the longest you will spend on most ships will be from about 6pm to 8am and during that time you will be eating, drinking, watching shows, partying and sleeping. There will be no time to feel trapped.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise

Always use a cruise agent. They will help guide you towards the right cruise line, ship and itinerary based on what you like – and also will know the best and latest deals and offers. They will also often have additional perks or benefits to include. I have been cruising for over a decade and have been developing content for that same time – and I still book through an agent.

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

Before you go make sure you know exactly what is (and is not included) in your fare and prepare for everything that is excluded (especially drinks, internet, excursions, transfers, speciality dining and gratuities). Set a target budget for on board and track it. Estimate what you think you will drink, how much you will use the Internet and other items not included and then cost and compare with the packages the line may be offering. Only buy them if they will actually save you, as for example to save with some drinks packages you have to be a VERY heavy drinker! Review your bill regularly to check how you are doing.

Image Credit: Gary Bembridge

For the latest news and information from Tips For Travellers click on the links below.

Tips For Travellers – YouTube

Tips For Travellers – Website

Gary Bembridge – Flickr

Tips For Travellers – Facebook

Recommended Reading Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

Cruise People – The Professionals

You Don’t Have To Be A Cruise Fanatic To Cruise

Dave, originally from Yorkshire, and his wife Lorraine, both have office based jobs in Surrey and love to travel. Last year they took their first cruise. I wanted to get their views on cruising for the first time and to see if it is something they would like to repeat.

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

Our first cruise was to Norway, we cruised on Celebrity Eclipse and it was at the end of August 2016.

Celebrity Eclipse in the Norwegian Fjords

What made you book a cruise?

I have always wanted to cruise to the Fjords. It was for my 50th birthday, although I had to do all the booking so it wasn’t a surprise.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

We went from Southampton.  What a great way to start a holiday. No queues, fast check in.  Within 2 hours or so from leaving our house, we were on board.

I liked the variety of things to do on board, the theatre was good although some of the acts were a bit cheesy.  I’m convinced that the the comedian on the first night was made of pure gorgonzola. The best act was a Freddie Mercury Tribute act, closely followed by a British singer from The Netherlands.

It was good to go to a show and then walk to dinner.  Its like living in a ‘happening’ city centre.

I enjoyed the fact that we visited loads of different towns in Norway. Some of the towns were so small that you had to book excursions, if you didn’t you would have been stuck in a small town (although they still had loads to do on board) but I don’t think you go to Norway to stay on board. The service and food were amazing.

As we were in a cold climate, nobody was using the outside space, this meant that at lunch time the buffet was packed.  We had to find a table first, then one at a time we went to get our food.  If we both went they would clear our tables as they thought we had left.  This is the only time we felt a bit packed in.

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

Seeing different places, experiencing different things (with the excursions), and the quality of the food/service etc.  We are not dedicated cruises but will happily go on one but will also do a different style of holiday.

The Flam Railway

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

We are doing the Alaskan cruise.  I am looking forward to the whale watching, glacier trip and zip wire excursions.  Life on board is quite good too, I enjoy the luxury.  I am also excited about the drive around Alaska which we are doing after the cruise.

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?

Do you feel trapped when you go into your local town?  Well the cruise ship is like a small city.  Unless you go on a rowing boat you wont feel trapped.

Do you have an general cruise tips?
  • Yes, quite soon after you set off you will be called for a muster drill.  This is where you have to meet at a certain place and have a roll call.  Before you attend this go to the bar and get a big cocktail. Take the “things to do list that should be in your cabin). When the meeting has finished sit back and relax with your drink.  If you leave at the same time as everyone else it is like being herded like cattle, you also see people at their worst.  After you have finished your drink and read the ‘things to do list’ you can then leave at your leisure.
  • Use your ‘things to do sheet’ and plan your day/evening.
  • Dont be scared to complain.  We did an excursion that was rubbish.  We complained and they offered a partial refund.  We did not accept it and was then given a full refund and asked not to tell anyone else.  We told everyone!
  • The waiters all test the food at the beginning of their shift so when they recommend your meal they are not trying to get rid of food they are really giving you what they think is the best food on the menu.
  • The waiters hold quite a lot of power within the kitchens.  If they think a dish is not up to scratch they will not recommend it and the chefs will change the way it is cooked.
  • Take the recommended wine from the wine waiter also.
Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

Shop around to get the best deal. Pick mid ship cabins to minimise sea sickness. On the Norway cruise it was good to see the fjords from the balcony.  We spent quite a lot of time cruising in places with good views.  If you are going around the Med then I would say an inside room would be best value as the weather is warm so you can see every thing from the decks.

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Cruise People – Jenny Elliott – Celebrity Cruises

Jenny Enjoys Helping People Find Their Dream Cruise

I first met Jenny in 2009 at a bmi cabin crew recruitment day, where I discovered her sweet nature and passion for travel, as we shared our nervousness and excitement at the time. We recognised each other two years later when our paths crossed again but this time it was at the Royal Caribbean office in Weybridge. Jenny now works solely for Celebrity Cruises and I wanted to find out what life is like for a Personal Cruise Specialist.

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

I did a 2 year BTEC course in Travel and Tourism where I achieved a distinction! Straight from college I started working for First Choice in one of their travel shops and stayed there for 5 years. After that I decided to move onto selling Cruises. I worked for Teletext Cruises and then onto Royal Caribbean.

What is your job role and what do you enjoy about it?

I am a Personal Cruise Specialist for Celebrity Cruises. I enjoy talking to different people and helping them find their dream cruise. Some people have saved for a long time and need help with what to book. I have built up a good client database and have regular guests who always keep in touch, even when they are onboard.

Jenny receiving her award for Outstanding Customer Service

What is the most memorable event you have attended as a result of your job?

There have been a few but I would probably say the Emma Pontin Memorial Event onboard Eclipse sticks in my mind. She is the Godmother of Eclipse and sadly lost her life to breast cancer a couple of years ago. She was a real inspiration to me and when she passed it was very sad for all of us at Celebrity. We held a memorial onboard the ship in her honour and invited her family and friends along. We presented them with a special glass penguin that was made on the ship, as that was her favourite animal. You can see the penguin proudly standing next to her portrait on Deck 3.

What challenges do you face in your day to day job role?

The main challenge is availability. We try and encourage guests to book early to secure direct flights, or specific room configurations, such as adjoining rooms, midship locations or accessible rooms. But the closer we get to the date of departure, the harder it is to find guests exactly what they are looking for.  It is disappointing for both us and the guests, when there is no availability.

What was your last holiday?

In September I flew to Seattle and went on a 1 week Alaska cruise. The landscapes there are amazing and I’ll never forget flying over the Juneau Icefield in a seaplane, just a couple of hundred feet above a glacier. There is so much to see there I think you could easily spend 3 weeks visiting different places. I would do another Alaska cruise without hesitation.

Cruising in Alaska

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

Currently my next holiday is a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords next September onboard Celebrity Silhouette. I have some friends coming with me as it is my 30th birthday next year. My parents are also coming as it is my Dad’s 70th. I have not been to the Fjords before so I am really looking forward to it. The pictures that I’ve seen from my guests look amazing!

What are your hobbies?

Cruising of course! I’ll try and do at least two cruises a year. I also enjoy going on country walks. I borrow two Wee-chons (Westie x Bichon Frise) from a neighbour and we walk through the fields. They love the outdoors. I like doing yoga to help me relax as working in the office can be stressful sometimes.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I’d love to cruise around New Zealand as it looks like a beautiful country. Alaska and the Norwegian Fjords were on my list but they are now ticked off.

If you could create your dream cruise what would it be? 

I’m happiest when I go away with my close friends. I also love sailing from Southampton because you don’t have to fly and have a couple of relaxing sea days before the ports begin. My dream room would be the reflection suite that has a cantilevered shower! Or one of the new edge villas that have a private plunge pool!

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

Do it! You won’t regret it. I book so many people on their first ever cruise and everyone comes back raving about it and want to book another one straight away.

Check out the new ship coming from Celebrity Cruises – Celebrity Edge

For the latest offers and promotions go to celebrity cruises.co.uk

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Cruise People – Tony Roberts – Princess Cruises

Tony Roberts Reveals He Wanted To Be A Lumberjack

Vice President of Princess Cruises UK and Europe, Tony Roberts, talks about his career, his favourite destinations and Henry & Roxy.

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

I started my working life in Finance, working as a Management Accountant for a Fund Management company, and then a company that made Industrial Filters. I was looking for a new challenge and within a week I was offered finance roles at P&O Cruises, Anderson Consulting, IBM and a company that made storage heaters. I took the job at P&O Cruises as I wanted to work somewhere that I could get excited about the product.

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

When I was (really) young, I wanted to be a lumberjack and live in Canada.

What makes Princess Cruises stand out from other cruises?

There are lots of things I could mention about Princess Cruises, such as our fantastic food and drink, amazing entertainment, immersive experiences and our focus on bringing the destination to life. But for me it’s the warmth and hard work of our conscientious crew – they really do a fantastic job and create truly memorable experiences.

As Vice President of Princess Cruises, what is an average day in the life for you?

My job means I’m travelling or away from the office about half of the time, both in the UK and overseas. When I’m in the office, I spend a lot of time with my team and I ask lots of questions.

What was your last holiday?

I went to Corsica and stayed in a villa for a week in August, I can recommend it. All the things I love about Southern France but with a bit of an Italian feel too.

Have you got your next holiday booked and what/where is it?

I’m heading to Singapore for Christmas to go on a cruise on Sapphire Princess visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. We’re taking the whole family including my Mum so will have three generations of Roberts’ onboard.

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

I try to only touch things once, rather than looking at something and then thinking I’ll come back to it. I’m also a ruthless delegator!

What are your hobbies?

I like cycling, and spending time with my family and two Cocker Spaniels.

Tony’s adorable pups, Roxy and Henry

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

I want to go to Alaska – maybe in 2018.

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

I would say that they should go for it as cruising really does offer something for everyone and it’s a great way of seeing lots of places whilst being really well looked after, and only unpacking once.

For the latest deals and special offers with Princess Cruises click here.

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

Family Cruising – Happy Kids Means Happy Parents

Iain Bruce-Low and his partner Anne-Marie own an award-winning hair salon in the scenic Scottish seaside town of Oban. With their three lovely children, they find family cruising is the perfect solution to meet their needs.

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

It was a Western Mediterranean Cruise in 2013 with Royal Caribbean onboard Adventure of the Seas.

What made you decide to book your first cruise?

Having 3 children all different ages 15, 12 and 3, we wanted to find a holiday that had something to keep everyone happy.

The Bruce-Low Family

What did you like about your first cruise?

The quality, the service and the number of things to do for everyone.

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

We cruised on Anthem of the Seas in 2015 and the ship is incredible!  It is so modern and new, with a lot more dining options, much more our style. There were an incredible amount of things for the kids to do, they were never bored!

The Bruce-Low’s prefer the larger cruise ships

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?

I love the freedom and choices, you can be as active or as lazy as you want. It is by far the most you can ever do on holiday as well as being the most relaxing holiday you’ll ever have.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

For me, it’s about the ship. It has to be a good enough size, we have learnt the bigger the better. Smaller ships tend to get more overcrowded where bigger ships people spread out more. Having plenty for the kids means they are happy – meaning we are even happier.

So much to do for families. Anthem of the Sea’s North Star takes you high above the ocean waves.

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

We go to the Champagne Bar to pick up a drink, then go off exploring.

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

It was a Venice and Greek Isle cruise onboard Rhapsody of the Seas. As it was out of season, we found it was more family cruising for adults and their parents, rather than small children. Also, the ship was probably too small for our liking. However, the smaller ship did allow us to explore a new area of the world, which we loved.

What would be your dream cruise if you could create your own? 

For me, it would be from Greenock/Glasgow and all around the Mediterranean, through the Suez Canal and on to Dubai and Asia.  At least a couple of months, please?

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

I would always recommend staying the night before the cruise, in a hotel nearby. It takes out the stress of arriving at the same time as everyone else. Also, you can tip the members of staff directly when you are onboard, then you don’t have to prepay gratuities.

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

Eat drink as much as you want and remember there is a gym, although I’ve still not seen it.

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?

I’ve heard it all before and best thing I could say is book it because you’ll never know until you try it.

For more information on Bruce-Low-Hair Boutique visit their website brucelowhair.co.uk

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Recommended Reading Independence of the Seas – The Best Cruise Of My Life

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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Lee Mudkins – Guest Relations Manager

Guest Relations Manager, Lee Mudkins talks about his life at sea.

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 on board ships?

I have been onboard 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?

For 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 razzmatazz 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.

Friendly staff onboard Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.

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?

Every day 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.

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Cruise People – Ladies Who Lunch

Donna Stoneman Shares Personal Cruise Experiences and Valuable Tips

Although the Surrey mum of three, Donna Stoneman does not confess to be one of the Ladies Who Lunch, ironically the day I asked for her consent to use the title, she had just been to lunch with some friends! As someone who has cruised many times with different cruise lines to all sorts of destinations, Donna gives great insight to anyone who wants to book a cruise but doesn’t know where to begin.

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

It was an Eastern Caribbean Cruise, Christmas 2008 on the Independence of the Seas.

Onboard Independence of the Seas for New Years Eve

What made you book your first cruise?

It was something we’d wanted to try after a friend told us what a great time they’d had. We went with my three children and mother and father in law. We left on Boxing Day and flew to Miami. It was lovely to have some winter sun and we had a fantastic New Years Eve onboard.

What did you like/dislike about your first cruise?

With three generations holidaying together, trying to keep everybody happy can be quite tricky. However, the ship gave us all independent space to do what we wanted and we weren’t in each other’s pockets. The children were really happy with all the activities organised by Royal Caribbean, and the grandparents were happy to have us all together at dinner. There wasn’t really anything I didn’t like about our first cruise, the Independence of the Seas was a new ship at the time, and we thoroughly enjoyed our holiday.

What is was your favourite cruise so far, and why?

Sailing from Venice around the Adriatic on Oceania Riviera in 2012. The ship was beautiful, we met lots of lovely people and the itinerary was fab. It was very port intensive but the ship was slightly smaller so we were able to dock in some lovely ports. The Adriatic coast is stunning and sailing into Montenegro is breathtaking.

Donna plays shuffleboard as they sailaway from Santorini on Oceania Riviera

What is it that appeals to you about cruising?
I’ve taken a lot of cruises as a single mum with kids. I always felt safe onboard on my own and, as you know, keeping kids entertained on your own is hard work – especially when you have such a wide age gap like mine. The kids were always happy and safe, which allowed me to have a relaxing time. 
One of the great things about cruising with Royal Caribbean is that their loyalty scheme recognises the credits for cruises the children have taken as youngsters. That stays with them for life.

I love the fact that you see several places without having to constantly pack, check in/out and the travelling is done when you’re asleep. We like to hire motorbikes which allows us to get around quickly. It’s lovely to come back to the air conditioned comfort of your cabin after exploring. Also, it’s great to dress up and have a fab evening, while someone else is taking the strain of getting you to your next destination.

Sailing away from the Hubbard Glacier onboard Celebrity Infinity.

How do you decide which cruises to take?

As life progresses, what we look for in a cruise changes. When the children were young it was about keeping them happy with bigger ships and full on entertainment. Now we prefer a bit more luxury and are highly influenced by the itinerary. We’ve done the Med so many times it’s not appealing anymore. We’ve tried several cruise lines, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Crystal Cruises and Oceania Cruises and they all offer something different. We still haven’t found our perfect line so will just have to keep trying.

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

I’d like to do a South American Cruise and a Polynesian cruise

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

Head to the bar! Explore the ship.

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

In July, We repeated our cruise from Venice down the Adriatic ending in Athens. Whilst the food was exceptional, we thought that the Riviera had lost a bit of its sparkle for us. There was also a lack of entertainment which spoilt it somewhat. It was full of Americans who are very keen to tour and the itinerary was port intensive so people went to bed early . This was quite an expensive cruise for us and we didn’t think it was value for money. We’d like to find a line which affords us some luxury with good food but also entertainment at night.

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

We are going on Norwegian Getaway in November and will be sailing to Mexico and Honduras which we’ve not been to before. Entertainment is fab on NCL and we love Howl at the Moon.

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?

I’ve been on some big ships but never felt crowded or herded.

Donna and Gary on a Mediterranean cruise onboard Norwegian Getaway in the Haven.

Do you have any tips for booking a cruise?

Upgrades – We don’t always spend a lot upgrading cabins. Sometimes its worth the price difference but I wouldn’t spend a lot upgrading if the only benefit is a larger cabin. Check which benefits are included with any upgrade and only pay extra if those benefits are worth it to you.

Haven on Norwegian Cruise Line is quite expensive but our cabin was no bigger. The main benefit was a butler we never saw, a seperate restaurant that we didn’t actually eat in and access to posh beach club, which we discovered we could have bought passes for without the need to upgrade to Haven.

I have been in a Grand Suite on Royal Caribbean. Benefits include access to the Concierge Lounge (which was a windowless room on Independence of the Seas that you didn’t want to spend much time in), but the best benefit for me was the separate sun bathing deck which negated the need to reserve a sun lounger at dawn.

We took Concierge the first time we sailed on Oceania but there was no main benefit to the extra price. So this time we had a basic cabin, but it had a huge balcony which to us was more important than a concierge we didn’t actually see.

On Celebrity we had an Aqua Class room but didn’t use the spa facilities so that wasn’t worth it. We ate in Blu once, which is the clean eating restaurant dedicated for Aqua Class guests, but next time we will use the price difference to buy a dining package.

Research – I use the internet to help me choose my cabin. I try to workout which side of the ship will get more sun in the first instance. I also dont want to be under an overhang from the deck above which are on some ships. We sailed on Regal Princess and discovered that two mini suites had balconies which extended over half of the bridge below and could have held a party of 50. It was fabulous. My bug bare is to be opposite a service door. Unfortunately deck plans don’t show their locations but to be on the safe side I only choose cabins with interiors opposite.

Loyalty – Some loyalty schemes are better than others. I’m now Diamond Plus with Royal Caribbean, and this affords me lots of benefits. I think they are one of the better loyalty schemes.

Fly/Cruise – If organising our own flights I feel safer to fly the day before – just to make sure I’m there in plenty of time. I took the children on a two week cruise on the Explorer in Christmas 2010 which sailed from New York. I thought it was silly to fly to New York City and not see any of it,  so we stayed for three nights before the cruise. When we eventually embarked it appeared that half the ship had missed flights because Heathrow was closed due to snow. The next dock they could embark was Barbados which was 5 days into the cruise.

Golden Gate Bridge – Donna enjoying her balcony onboard Celebrity Century.

It is a good idea to combine the flights and cruise with the same travel company and then it is their responsibility to get you on the ship. Sometimes, though, this can be expensive. I took the whole family (6 of us) on a Baltic cruise and the transfer from Copenhagen airport to the ship was £300 and it was only a 20/25 min journey. Not taking the transfer however would have broken the continuity and put the responsibility on us to getting to the ship in time. As we were flying in that morning I felt I had the choice of either pay the transfer or fly in the night before and put us all up in a hotel.

Gratuities/Tips – When we sailed on Seabourn I liked the fact that tips were not required or expected. With free style dining now you don’t have the same relationships with waiting staff that you used to when it was traditional dining.

Drinking Age – If you are travelling with 18 – 20 year olds, check drinking ages for each cruise line in advance as each one is different. I took two 20 year olds on a Baltic cruise with Princess and they weren’t allowed to drink. If we had sailed Royal Caribbean they could have done as their criteria is the drinking age of the country of departure ( which means its 21 if sailing form the states but 18 if Europe)

What would you say to someone who is considering booking their first cruise?

Try it – you’ll never look back!

After a day of rib riding in Oslo, Donna enjoys a sailaway drink on her mini suite balcony onboard Royal Princess.

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Cruise People – The Retired Police Officer

After their first cruise on Grandeur of the Seas in 2011, they were hooked.

James Manson is a retired Police Officer and lives with his wife Pamela in South Ayrshire. I was keen to find out what it was that appealed to them about cruising, and what makes them take two or more cruises every year.

What brought you to the decision to book your first cruise?

Our first cruise was booked after lengthy discussions with friends who are to say the least regular cruisers. My wife and i gave it some thought, and we decided to give it a try. I personally thought that in 2011 cruises were like going on a OAP holiday, stripped deck chairs, knotted handkerchiefs and tea dances. However, after several more discussions I was ordered to go to a travel agent and book.

What was your first cruise like?

Our first cruise was on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, which departed from Palma. On arrival at the port we were in awe at the sight of this magnificent ship. We had booked an oceanview stateroom which was very comfortable, but couldn’t really see much due to the height of the porthole. We cruised the Spanish Mediterranean and return to Palma. It was a very enjoyable experience.

We could not fault anything regarding the cruise. Every aspect of the cruise was tremendous. On return we called RCCL and booked another for 2012.

Since then, you have cruised many times. What are your favourite destinations to visit and why?

The Cruise we favour most is the Greek Isles and Turkey /Greek Isles and Croatia which now we have done 8 times 14 days at a time. We love the ports of call and the people and excursions in those ports are wonderful.

Can you tell me what it is about cruising that attracts you?

We love the totally relaxed atmosphere that cruises give and being spoiled with the attentive staff on board. We also love the varied choice of food in the many restaurants. It is just wonderful rising from the table and not having dishes to do or house work each day.

How do you decide which cruise you are going to book next?

We always listen to others experiences while on board, and then choose a different itinerary. We have never set out certain destinations, we just peruse the detailed information outside the sales office on board and go from there.

What is the first thing you do when you get onboard?

When we arrive on the ship we always check in detail the ships’ emergency procedures, and encourage others to do so as well. However, I have a pet hate of those people who turn up late, or stand there and yawn when the crucial speech is delivered by the safety officers on board. It should be recognised by everyone, PERSONAL SAFETY is of paramount importance.

Are there any special items that you always take on a cruise?

The only special item we always carry is my wife’s Clarins, as use of this maintains her youthful looks.

What was your last cruise?

Our last Cruise was 17 June 2017 on the Independence of the Seas, and to our surprise we met Captain Iv, whom we had sailed with 8 times while he was the Captain of the Splendour of the Seas. This is a tremendous cruise with great ports of call.

We have also cruised on the Allure of the Seas on two occasions and the Vision of the Seas.

Do you have another cruise planned?

We have re booked again for June 2018 for 14 night Mediterranean Cities and a 14 night Southern Caribbean.

What would be your ‘dream cruise’?

We have one special cruise that someday we will go on and that is the Panama Canal. It is our lifelong ambition and will take the opportunity when Royal Caribbean have an itinerary. The other is the Far East.

Photo By Stan Shebs

Can you offer any tips when it comes to booking a cruise?

In 2012 we booked a cruise on the Splendour of the Seas. We were about to leave when we had a call to get an upgrade to a Family Junior Suite. The agent sewed the seed as we took up this offer, and now we always have a Junior Suite at the aft of the ship. We now only book when one of the 6 Junior Suites are available.

Again, through our experience we use the same agent as to us loyalty is important. The advantage of booking on board is that the staff in that office have all availability on a screen in front of you.

As we have been loyal to Royal Caribbean we have made many good friends in the staff and some lifelong friend from fellow travellers. We could spend all day naming Crew members who have gone beyond the call of duty to ensure your cruise has been enjoyed.

What advice would you give to people thinking about booking their first cruise?

From a personal point of view, I would encourage any intending cruisers to try a four or five night cruise first, to gain an unforgettable experience and to allay any fears of being crowded and feeling trapped. You will have a different perspective.

Cruise People – Captain Greybeard

John Honeywell aka Captain Greybeard

A man that really needs no introduction, Captain Greybeard is a household name for fans of cruising, and to us all in the cruise industry. I was absolutely thrilled that. So without further ado here is what I found out.

What does Editor at Large mean?

I was editor of World of Cruising for two years, and then decided to step down to give someone else a chance. Taking the title Editor at Large permits me to retain my association with the magazine, and allows the publication to continue to benefit from its connection with John Honeywell and Captain Greybeard. I like to think I now have twice the fun with half the hassle.

When did you start writing about cruising and why?

As managing editor of a national newspaper group, I was occasionally given opportunities to take part in press trips and fam trips in my own time. After my first cruise (see below) I began to focus on that niche of the travel business and eventually took cruises almost to the exclusion of any other form of holiday. The long-lost days when I would spend two weeks in the same self-catering resort are definitely a thing of the past.

Can you tell us about your very first cruise?

I joined Fred Olsen’s Black Watch in Egypt, expecting to sail for two weeks to reach the UK. The ship had only recently been acquired by Fred Olsen and was on the last leg of a round-Africa voyage. I was immediately impressed by everything about the ship. It was not all plain sailing, however. A mechanical breakdown meant all the passengers had to fly home from Malta where the ship had to stay for repairs. Nevertheless, I was hooked. A year later I was back in the same cabin on the same ship, cruising from Hong Kong to Singapore.

Things are so much easier now with laptops, iPhones, email and internet. What was the method for producing an article when you first started in journalism and do you miss that?

I started my journalistic career on a local weekly newspaper with a staff of three reporters. We knocked out all our copy on ageing upright Remington typewriters that would look like museum pieces today. I progressed via regional daily papers in Sheffield and Birmingham to a job on the Daily Express, moved to London to join Eddy Shah’s Today, returned to the Express, and then had 13 years with the Mirror Group. I can clearly remember the first time I ever heard the word “internet” – at a conference in Berlin on the future of publishing. Since then, EVERYTHING about modern communications has changed.

What is it about cruising that appeals to you?

There’s so much variety. Choose the right ship and the quality of service, accommodation and food is superior to the finest five-star hotel, and the value-for-money is far superior. Choose a different operator and there are opportunities for expeditions and explorations that are impossible to find elsewhere.

As Captain Greybeard, what is an average day life for you?

The best thing about being Captain Greybeard is that there is no such thing as an average day. I could be cruising in the Caribbean, attending a press conference at an Italian shipyard, an industry function in London, or sitting at my desk writing another feature for World of Cruising, the Mirror, the Daily Telegraph, or Cruise Critic.

How did it feel to win the CLIAUK’s Contribution to Cruise Award

One of the proudest moments of my life, after pouring my heart and soul into supporting the cruise industry for almost two decades. To be perfectly honest, there was also an element of “About time, too!” Every previous year the award had gone to a woman writer.

Have you ever met a member of the Royal Family? If so who, why, when and where?

I was a guest at a Buckingham Palace garden party during my time as Managing Editor at the Express. I have attended cruise industry lunches and functions at which The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and the Princess Royal have been guests of honour, but I have never been given the opportunity to speak to any of them. I think I enraged The Queen’s staff when I sneaked a picture of her during Grace on board QM2. Oh, and one year I was a guest at the Cheltenham Festival race meeting when Coral’s bookmakers swapped their box with the Royal Box so that the Queen Mother could get to her seat in the lift.

What was your last holiday?

I don’t have holidays any more, it’s always work. Although work was less important than usual during a cruise to the Seychelles on board Crystal Esprit in March – it was timed to coincide with a significant wedding anniversary.

Have you got your next holiday booked and where is it?

Sadly, I have been ill recently and have had to cancel a planned cruise to the Indian Ocean (back with Fred Olsen) and a Crystal cruise that would have taken me to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. It looks like I will be banned from flying on medical grounds for some time, so I can write off the chance to visit Antarctica next March. If all goes well, I’ll become the ex-UK, no-fly Ninja during 2019, sailing from homeports and getting to the European rivers by Eurostar or coach. Another opportunity to make the most of.

Name one or more things on your bucket list.

Antarctica, Galapagos and New Zealand

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

What are you waiting for?

The Captain’s Log

More from Captain Greybeard can be found on the website captain greybeard.com

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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 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

More information can be found at avaloncruises.co.uk

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