Q: What made you choose to study Hotel and Catering?
A: My Dad told me "You'll only do well in something you like doing. What do you like?" My answer was, "I like going on holiday Dad!" And that was the start of it!
Q: How did your career progress?
A: I was tempted by the experiences of others and joined P&O's Canberra back in 1974, working my way up from room steward, bellboy and waiter to - two years and two full world cruises later - Public Rooms Steward. I'd got the bug, and my next gig was further afield on Sun Princess, known to many as the Love Boat of the TV series, and so indeed it proved to be for me and Pat, my lovely wife, who I met on board. After seven years, we returned to the UK to marry and start a family, settling first outside Liverpool and then on the south coast at Lymington. From there, I had easy access to Southampton and Portsmouth, and forged a career on ferries, promoted from steward through to supervisor, barman, and finally to head up Food and Beverage.
When one of my colleagues left to take up a new role as MD of Hebridean Island Cruises, he was quick to suggest I put my managerial and social skills to good use in this little country house hotel afloat, so I joined in 2005, looking after F&B before becoming Chief Purser in 2007. I hop across to Europe periodically to join Hebridean's river cruise vessel Royal Crown.
Q: How do clients like the river product?
A: Regular Hebridean clients - and there are many of them - welcome the opportunity to travel a little further afield, both on the river cruises and also when Hebridean Princess ventures across the seas to Norway (next year), the islands of Shetland and Orkney (this summer), and even France and Belgium (last year).
Q: What do you like best about Hebridean Princess?
A: The personal intimate feel - a lucky group of just 50 guests enjoy the house party style of the ship, many returning time and again to their 'family' on board. I like the comfortable mix of unpretentious travellers enjoying their very special home from home as they travel in the beautiful surroundings of Western Scotland, with its wealth of history and wildlife, not to mention a great choice of whiskies!
Q: What are your favourite ports of call?
A: I love Staffa, and the Shiant Isles. We often get to see puffins there.
Q: How about the Highland Menace - the midges?
A: A diet of Marmite for a week before, and Skin So Soft dry oil spray (presumably they just slide off you…).
Q: How about your own holidays - what do you like to do?
A: A life on board a ship as small as Hebridean Princess is pretty full on, so when I am on leave, I have no wish to gad about, preferring pottering at home, dog-walking and gardening. I'm a bit of a football fan too (Bristol City, since you ask…).