How long have you been working in the travel industry?
I have been working in the travel industry for a total of 22 years now. Starting my career at Virgin Atlantic, I began with training new recruits, before moving on to work for a train company in Derby where I set up a training academy for drivers. I then moved on to work for Royal Caribbean for 12 years, where I worked in a number of roles including setting up a training programme for staff and then moving into the National Sales Manager role. I then had the opportunity to join Uniworld, where I learnt a lot about river cruising and was able to bring this product to the UK by heading up their new UK team. The opportunity then arose for me to set up my own business, whilst joining the team at Fred.\ Holidays at the same time, which I started last year. I then joined the Fred.\ River Cruises team at the end of 2018 and am looking forward to increasing awareness amongst the trade and customers that we really are the ‘one stop shop’ for river cruising.
What, do you believe, makes river cruising unique?
I believe that river cruising in the UK is where we saw ocean cruise 10 years ago as customers are starting to appreciate the diversity that river cruising can provide and the fact that you can get into the heart of these destinations that you just can’t do on an ocean cruise. River cruising is also a relaxed way of visiting multiple places, where you unpack only once and cruise in a high level of comfort, style and luxury.
Which river cruise lines have you cruised with?
During my time in the travel industry I have been lucky enough to experience several river cruising. I sailed the Danube, Rhine, Seine, Rhône, Saône, Main and Moselle rivers during my time at Uniworld and experienced small ship sailing along the rivers of Bordeaux on a Fred. Olsen cruise onboard Braemar from Southampton. More recently I had the incredible opportunity to sail the Lower Mississippi River with American Cruise Lines which was an amazing experience.
Are there any rivers or regions that you would particularly recommend?
If you’ve never cruised before, then the Rhine is a fantastic place to start. It’s easy to get to, is full of lots of lovely towns and cities and you will get to visit four countries on your journey. Once you’ve experience the Rhine, you will definitely get the bug for river cruising and want to explore Europe further. This is where the Danube is the perfect choice, as it opens up a large part of Eastern Europe and is steeped in history. For those looking for something completely different, the Mississippi River is a real bucket list choice, and the perfect river for music lovers as it covers the ‘holy trinity’ of musical cities – New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville.
What is your most memorable river cruising experience?
My most memorable experience is definitely the first cruise I did along the Rhine River. There is a particular part of the Rhine which is lined with historic castles (Middle Rhine Valley) which was really breath-taking. I remember one evening on board as the sun was setting, seeing Neuschwanstein Castle (the castle which inspired Disney’s Sleeping Beauty) appear around the meander with the sun setting behind it and thinking that it was a truly magical experience.
What are the unique factors of booking with Fred.\ River Cruises?
Our incredibly knowledgeable sales team are experts when it comes to, not just the cruise lines, but all river cruise company’s out there. This knowledge has been built up over years of experience and visiting ships and cruise lines all over the world. We are able to offer the right river cruise to the customer, tailor-making river cruises, using the experience that we have gathered over the years.