Essex-based Matt found it rather strange learning how to pose for a photoshoot but was pleased his toes weren’t stepped on by swimming pigs in the Bahamas. He shares his Cover Stars experience with Benjamin Coren.

Q. What did you think of Norwegian Sky?
A. I hadn’t sailed with NCL before but I have cruised quite a bit. When we turned up at the port, the ship was docked beside Norwegian Star and it got us all talking about which one we were on. I probably had a bit of a preconception about what NCL would be like but the ship was beautiful, clean and comfortable, and everything was easy to find. I liked how the fish on the carpet throughout the ship face forward so you know which way you’re cruising.

Q. How were the excursions?
A. NCL’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, was amazing and we had our own private cabana there. We went swimming with the pigs on the private island which was great. The pigs come over and you can feed them with a long stick. Their trotters are really hard, and a few people got their feet trodden on! Fortunately, they didn’t tread on mine. The island tour of Grand Bahama was my favourite, I really liked to see what the locals do and how they live. That’s the sort of excursion I’d pay for myself.

Q. You departed from Miami – had you been there before?
A. It was my first time in Miami and we stayed at the Eden Roc, an amazing hotel. We all had ocean balconies with amazing views and went shopping at a nearby outlet when we arrived and went a bit crazy. We also had a presentation about the Eden Roc and Nobu brands and we toured the properties where we saw suites that were bigger than my house.

Q. What was the photoshoot like?
A. It was really fun, I’ve never done anything like it before. The photographer, Steve, was outstanding and he put us all at ease. It was weird to learn how to stand when posing. We had a really cool shoot on the bridge where we met the captain and crew, who made sure we didn’t press any buttons we shouldn’t.

Q. What were your main takeaways from the trip?
A. It’s been easier now to talk to customers about NCL and use what we learnt in a positive way. I think it’s quite a good multigenerational cruise line and the itineraries they do in Europe are great for couples as you can find peace and quiet but also enjoy the great entertainment.

Q. What did you think of the entertainment onboard?
A. We saw a comedian who was hilarious and went to the casino one night (because you have to!) as well as a few bars and karaoke – but I’m not a great singer! We got involved in the white party and really threw ourselves into it, treating it like a holiday so we would experience what a paying passenger would, despite the VIP service. That way we really experienced it and can better sell it.

Q. How was the food on the ship?
A. They upgraded us to the specialist dining product, which was great, as sometimes you might fancy a nice steak or fish that may not be on the main restaurant menu. The steak restaurant was incredible and I had an amazing filet. I’m blown away every time I cruise by the quality of the food. I would recommend selling customers the specialist dinner packages. It means you have some additional nice restaurants to choose from and, rather than pay the cover charge, you pay upfront.


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Travel Weekly Cover Stars 2019 is running in association with headline sponsor Norwegian Cruise Line, travel partners American Airlines and British Airways and hotel partner Gold Medal.