British singer, songwriter, producer and musician Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.
Member of one of the biggest groups in British music history Take That, is set to make Iona’s intimate music bar the most exciting live music venue at sea. The atmospheric late-night music venue will showcase an eclectic range of performances. In keeping with P&O Cruises traditions, the shows will be curated to appeal to British music lovers. Up-and-coming musicians will get a chance to play, which could give them their lucky break.
Naming Ceremony Performance
Gary’s role with P&O Cruises will also see him performing at Iona’s naming celebration which kicks off IonaFest, the UK’s most exciting new floating festival which is a seven-night cruise to the Norwegian Fjords from Southampton on July 4, 2020.
P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as the brand ambassador. Gary’s impressive career speaks for itself and he will bring his vision and personality to our new The 710 Club; from guiding the resident band, selecting future performers and playlists and even shaping the interiors and signature cocktails.
“We’re excited that our guests can be a part of it and they will have the opportunity to watch Gary light up Iona’s theatre for some extraordinary performances in dazzling surroundings. This collaboration highlights our commitment to providing world-class entertainment on Iona that places music firmly at its heart.”
Image: P&O Cruises. Gary Barlow is to make his debut role as musical director of The 710 Club on contemporary new P&O Cruises flagship, Iona.
Gary Barlow added: “I want The 710 Club to be a celebration of great music and great talent. As its musical director, I want to give a unique experience for people who love music as much as I do.”
“Music has been such a massive part of my life – and taken me on so many journeys and adventures. I’m hoping to pass this on to all the guests in my club.”
Cruises With Gary Barlow
Gary will also join guests on two Iona holidays in 2020 for exclusive performances;*
Iona G018 departing Southampton on 29 August for the Norwegian Fjords
Iona G025 departing Southampton on 31 October for Spain and Portugal
*Tickets for the performances are limited. They will go on sale prior to the holiday, on a first-come, first-served basis. The cost will be £25 per person with a maximum of 4 tickets per holiday booking. All proceeds from ticket sales will be donated to two charities; Child Bereavement UK and Teenage Cancer Trust.
Gary Barlow Will Be P&O Cruises New Brand Ambassador
P&O Cruises have announced today, that Gary Barlow is going to be their new brand ambassador. Guests cruising in 2020 will be able to experience the benefit of this pioneering partnership.
As a producer, musician, songwriter and member of the legendary British pop group Take That, cruisers are sure to be thrilled at the announcement. P&O Cruises are holding an exclusive event at the Grade 1 listed church building St. Luke’s London Symphony Orchestra this evening (15 January). Here they will announce more details of Gary’s as the new brand ambassador.
Gary is one of the most successful musicians in the UK, with an impressive career. He has written 15 number one singles and sold over 45 million records worldwide. His live performances have sold over 8 million concert tickets. In recognition of his great work, Gary has won six Ivor Novello Awards and eight BRIT Awards.
Gary has also co-written and produced music for other renowned artists. These include legendary singers such as, Dame Shirley Bassey, Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams. Gary composed the score for the hugely successful ‘Finding Neverland’ and worked alongside screenwriter Tim Firth to write the music and lyrics for the musical ’The Girls’. More recently Gary worked alongside his bandmates Mark Owen, Howard Donald and Robbie Williams to produce ‘The Band’ a record-breaking musical featuring the music of Take That.
P&O Cruises president, Paul Ludlow, said: “We are immensely proud to have someone of Gary’s stature and talent working with us as a brand ambassador and we look forward to revealing more exciting details on Gary’s role very soon.”
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?
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.
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.
I don’t know the official statistics, but whenever I have been to a significant cruise event, Steve Dunlop always pops up out of nowhere like a stealth meerkat. By the time you’ve noticed him, he’s halfway across the room. When flicking through the weekly trade magazines, you can guarantee to see his name credited to the big events photos. So let’s find out more about the man of mystery.
What was the first cruise ship you photographed and when?
P&O Oriana at the naming ceremony in 1995.
You have been the official photographer for many naming ceremonies. Have you ever met one of the Royals? If so, which one(s) and can you tell me about it?
Her Majesty The Queen on three occasions; with P&O Cruises in 1995 for Oriana and 2015 for Britannia, and with Cunard for the naming of Queen Elizabeth in 2010.
Also there was, Princess Anne at the naming for P&O Cruises Aurora in 2000, The Duchess of Cambridge at Princess Cruises Royal Princess naming ceremony in 2013, and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall for Cunard Queen Victoria naming ceremony in 2007.
You can’t chat with the Royals so they’ve never had the benefit of hearing about my favourite Draught Bitter.
Many years ago I was photographing The Duke of Edinburgh at his Awards scheme. He unexpectedly asked me directly if I was certain I wouldn’t get the rather voluptuous Rubenesque figures featured on the paintings in the room in any of the shots I took of him. I didn’t.
Steve in the media throng at the Britannia naming ceremony
Can you name other Celebrities you have photographed? Do you have a favourite to work with and why?
I love Jonathan Ross because he once said I looked like a proper photographer!
As Brucie would say (and I’ve photographed him at The P&O Cruises Britannia Naming), ‘They are all my favourites.”
In cruise I’ve been fortunate to have worked with all the P&O Cruises Food Heroes; Marco Pierre White, Eric Lanlard, Olly Smith, James Martin. Attul Kochhar.
I’ve also photographed many guest celebrity chefs in the Cookery School onboard P&O Britannia, such as Carluccio and Alex James.
Marco Pierre White and Eric Lanlard are wonderfully nice people. I’ve enjoyed many days at sea over many years aboard P&O ships with each.
I once spent a day with Marco, island hopping en route back from a promotional shoot in the Caribbean. We had 8-9 hours to spare in Antigua before our transatlantic flight. My wife who was also out there working, sourced a beach bar nearby. We spent the afternoon eating chicken wings and drinking cold beer. He’s great company. At the airport he insisted on sitting with us in the main terminal instead of seeking refuge in the Business Lounge.
I’ve met many famous people attending as celebrity guests at all of the Naming ceremonies. I’m a big Corrie fan so meeting Liz Dawn (Vera Duckworth) at the Cunard Queen Elizabeth naming was a biggie for me.. nearly outstripping being part of the Royal Rota photographing the Queen for that ceremony.
Twiggy at Seabourn Sojurn Christening 2010. I had to report to Twiggy’s cabin so that she could OK the pictures I’d taken of her. Sat with her going through the shots and chatting. I told her I was great fan and that she reminded me of my Aunty Diane. She looked at me (not surprisingly) in a quizzical manner. I had to explain that looking like my Aunty Diane was a good thing…
Dame Joan Collins, Uniworld Joie de Vivre Christening 2017
What are the biggest challenges you face in your work?
Deadlines are usually easy to meet. You can send images immediately so unless someone wants it before I’ve taken it then I should be ok.
Biggest challenge is keeping up with ever changing technology
Is there an occasion that you have worked on that you are most proud of?
P&O Cruises Britannia Naming and being on the Royal Rota for Cunard Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria Namings.
Do you have a favourite photograph that you have taken?
A portrait of Marco Pierre White taken way back in 2006 which was first time I’d met him. The photo was taken at his restaurant in St James’s Street and was used throughout P&O promotional / marketing material for years and years. I still see it in use now. I think it was because I managed to capture him smiling.
The Queen smiling at P&O Cruises Britannia naming.
Cunard Queen Elizabeth’s arrival in Southampton from a helicopter.
Steve’s feet in a helicopter taking a photo of Queen Elizabeth arriving Southampton 8th October 2010
If you could do any other job, what would it be?
A gardener.My younger brother is a gardener by profession. I’d be hoping that I could look as fit, lean, sun kissed & healthy as he does
What is an average day like for you?
If I’m at home in Bayswater like to start at 6.30am with walking our two Tibetan Terriers in Kensington Gardens. It’s the most relaxing start to a day. I take my iphone and shoot the sunrises and misty mornings for instagram & Twitter as I go.
I try to clear as much of a shoot off my desk on the day I shoot it. After a Big Awards Night this can mean working through to 4 or 5am. The incentive for doing this is to start the day relaxed in the park.
Most days I have a shoot during the daytime but if I don’t then I’m usually at my desk updating social media feeds and website. Equipment needs preparing ready for the next shoot. The dogs will need an afternoon walk… sometimes to the local pub.
Is there a ship that you would love to photograph that you haven’t done yet?
I feel as though I’ve been on the best. I’ve certainly had the Best of Times on the ships I’ve photographed.
Do you cruise yourself?
Yes . I’ve been on two cruise holidays. Both with Celebrity Cruises.
What was your last holiday
Long weekend in Mykonos in May with my wife.
Do you have your next holiday booked? If so, can you tell us about it?
I will be cruising up the Mekong on AMA Waterways AmaDara River cruise ship. I am travelling with my wife and four other friends we all work in the travel and/or cruise industry. I don’t usually take my camera on holiday but will be making an exception on this occasion.
Do you have a dream destination or cruise?
Would love to cruise the Antarctica or Alaska.
By Andrew Mandemaker
Do you have a funny or embarrassing story to tell?
Not a cruise story but it is water related. I was shooting Sir Steve Redgrave for the Leander Club Henley Regatta brochure. It was in the days of shooting on film . I think he only had the two medals at the time. It was FIVE in the morning in Henley. I’d just driven across London from Greenwich. Oooof. Got some great shots of Steve training on the river from a launch following them tight in their wake . On reaching dry land I was busy chatting away with them – probably not concentrating enough. The roll of film dropped from my hands as I unloaded , rolled slowly along the jetty, and dropped into the Thames. He looked at me with a smile and said “see you here tomorrow then”.
Can you give any tips for people to help capture great moments while on their cruise?
Don’t take too many photos or videos. Enjoy the moment. Live it in real time. Failing that – step up to your subject and think about what it is you are photographing. That will help you frame & compose the shot to best effect. Don’t just shoot away hoping. Don’t use filters!
So it wasn’t actually my first time onboard Britannia, but as you can imagine, the launch event was pretty hectic. An opportunity to revisit P & O Cruises newest ship came up, so I jumped at the opportunity to take another look.
1. Grand Atrium
If you have been on any of Britannia’s predecessors, you will notice the difference in her interior design. The atrium is contemporary and more luxurious than the rest of the fleet. The chandelier dominates and Wows you as you walk in. The bar looks lavish with its sparkly lighting and black marble top. In my opinion, a ship’s atrium sets the scene for the rest of the cruise experience. It kind of gets you in the mood for what is to come.
The Atrium onboard Britannia has a contemporary and more luxurious feel.
The glitz and glamour of the atrium bar is a new addition to P & O Cruises design.
2. The Pool Deck
The most important part of any cruise ship in my opinion, is the pool deck (ok apart from the lifeboats). Britannia offers two pools in this area, as well as jacuzzis, attractive sun loungers, a platform/stage which has been graced by Ant and Dec in the Saturday Night Takeaway hosted onboard, and of course a pool bar.
Britannia’s Main Pool as seen on Saturday Night Takeaway
Relax in one of the Jacuzzi’s onboard
3. Cabins and Staterooms
The main difference between Britannia and the other P and O ships, is that there are no oceanview staterooms. What I mean is that you can have an inside, or a balcony but nothing in between. They do have single cabins and accessible cabins available, but these do get booked up quickly.
A nice seating area in the balcony cabins.
A very comfy looking bed in the balcony cabins
4. The Crow’s Nest
It wouldn’t be a P and O ship without one, and Britannia is no exception. The Crow’s Nest is a real favourite with the regular P and O cruisers, and it’s not hard to see why. With stunning views of the ocean, ample seating, a piano and a bar, it is the perfect place to relax and take in the scenery as you cruise to your next destination.
The Crow’s Nest offers amazing sea views
Enjoy the views while a pianist plays your favourite tunes
A great place to sit and enjoy panoramic ocean views (have I mentioned the views?)
5. Luxuriate in the Retreat
Whether you are looking to get away from the kids or just like that bit of extra luxury, the Retreat is a private adult only area to relax and unwind.
Relax and enjoy the serenity of the retreat
Cool down with a dip in this pool of tranquility
Relax in bistro style
What could be more luxurious than a treatment in this outdoor spa room
6. Relax in the Oasis Spa
So you are not a sun worshipper, or the itinerary you are sailing on is not quite warm enough. This is a great excuse to take a trip to the Oasis Spa. With hundreds of different types of treatments on offer, you can pamper yourself to your heart’s content.
Feel the warmth penetrate your back muscles as you relax on one of these heated loungers
Step into thalassotherapy pool as your cares melt away
7. A Food Hero for Everyone
We all need a hero, but P and O have five of them. I’ll take James Martin and you can all fight over the rest. In fact, we heard James was onboard the same day as us and I was hoping to say hello, but it wasn’t to be. We can but dream. Having said that, my knees did buckle when I came face to face with Marco Pierre-White on Ventura once, but to me James seems more of your boy next door type. Oh what am I talking about, I’d accept a date with either of them!
The Cookery Club
This is a great addition for P & O Cruises but they won’t let me onboard when James or Marco are hosting their cookery classes.
A speciality restaurant that offers an afternoon tea created by French Pastry Chef Eric “Cake Boy” Lanlard. This is a not-to-be-missed experience whilst cruising onboard Britannia, and comes at a fraction of the price you would pay in a London Hotel. And it includes champagne.
Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s afternoon tea at the Epicurean
One of my favourite features onboard P & O ships is Olly Smith’s Glasshouse. Find out more when I took part in a wine tasting class onboard Ventura.
The perfect place for your #shipsandchampagne moment
As a cruise line that caters primarily for the British market, P and O made a good call when creating the onboard Indian restaurant Sindhu with 2 Michelin Star chef Atul Kochhar.
Beautiful mahogany decor at Sindhu adds atmosphere to the fine dining Indian cuisine
8. The Limelight Club
This is my favourite feature onboard Britannia. It was first described to me as a sort of Ronnie Scott’s at sea. There is a cover charge for this venue and you can enjoy a beautiful meal, followed by performances from first class musicians.
The Limelight Club invites you to enjoy an evening of fine dining and live performances.
A lovely atmosphere awaits in The Limelight Club
When I attended the Britannia launch event, I was adamant not to miss out on seeing Jaki Graham performing live. As an 80’s chick, it was a big deal to me.
9. I Love P & O Cruises No Hassle Caribbean Fly Cruise
P & O Cruises have designed a unique hassle free Caribbean fly cruise experience. Depart from your preferred regional airport and once you check in your luggage, you won’t see it again until you get onboard the ship. You fly out the same day and as the aircraft is chartered, everyone is going to the same destination. There is no need for an Esta as you are not visiting the United States and no need to overnight in a hotel before your cruise.
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