James Howlett, Uniworld’s sales manager for the north of England, on falling foul of greedy gulls, his love of Vienna and waking up with Christian O’Connell.
Why is your cruise line the best of all?
Uniworld ships are different from anything else out there because there is so much passion put into every element. Every detail of the excursions, meals, beverages and ships is painstakingly thought out. Service is paramount for Uniworld, so we have one of the highest staff -to-guest ratios in the market. The ships are beautifully designed and all different from each other. What other cruise line can lay claim to having original works of art by Klimt and Opie, handmade Savoir beds and fabric by Pierre Fray?
If your cruise line was a famous person, who would it be and why?
Probably Audrey Hepburn as she embodies what the brand is all about. She was, and remains, one of the most stylish and beautiful women of all time.
How long have you worked for Uniworld?
Only three months, but I absolutely love it. The team is so fantastic.
What was your very first job?
I was a professional rugby player but I suffered an injury that ended my playing days and meant I had to get a real job.
Which geographical area do you cover?
I cover the fabulous north, which pretty much includes everything north of Birmingham, and Wales.
What three things can you not get through the working day without?
The Christian O’Connell breakfast show on Absolute Radio has become my early-morning staple, oh and drinking my body weight in coffee.
How many of Uniworld’s ships have you sailed on?
I haven’t sailed on any of the Uniworld fleet yet, however I have just returned from our global sales meeting where I stayed on Antoinette and spent time on River Duchess, River Queen, River Empress, River Ambassador and River Princess.
Which is your favourite onboard restaurant?
Every restaurant on every ship is just exquisite. I was lucky enough to spend some time with the chefs in March and they really are exceptional. I recently sampled a tastings menu on our new ship Joie De Vivre, and the food was out of this world.
Which port would you always disembark in?
Vienna, the city is just stunning, every building and winding street just gets better. The cakes are just amazing. It’s also home to some of the best musicians and artists the world has ever known, including Mozart, Strauss and Beethoven. If you get time, you have to see the Lipizzaner horses perform at the Spanish Riding School.
And which port would you opt to stay on board – and why?
There isn’t anywhere I would choose to stay on board, everywhere has something new and different to offer and you just need to explore and listen to the experts. The next port you visit may become your favourite destination.
Which cruise is on your bucket list?
It has to be India. We have an amazing itinerary that starts in New Delhi on a tour, then goes to Jaipur and Agra to see the Taj Mahal. The exciting part is we have a seven-night voyage along the Ganges starting in Kolkata where you get tosee some incredible sights and meet amazing people.
If you didn’t work in the cruise industry, what would you do?
I have absolutely fallen in love with the industry, so hopefully that never happens. But if I didn’t, I’d like to work in sport maybe as a coach for aspiring rugby players.
If you could name a ship, what would you call it?
Well seeing as Boaty McBoatface is taken, how about the McDonald, in honour of Jane after she had such an amazing time on the Maria Theresa?