Natalie Read, regional sales manager for Crystal Cruises, talks Asian cuisine, Italian destinations and Arctic expeditions.
Why is your cruise line the best of all cruise lines?
Crystal is innovating all the time, which makes it the most exciting cruise line in the ultra-luxury sector, with aeroplanes, luxury yachts and new river cruise vessels. We are totally revamping our existing ocean ships before introducing a new style of ocean cruises for the future… watch this space! Also, we have the best all-inclusive food and wine at sea; not many people know this but we have a Nobu restaurant on board each of our ocean ships.
If your cruise line was a famous person, who would it be and why?
Grace Kelly – beautiful, elegant, stylish, unpretentious, classic and just a little bit sassy!
How long have you worked for your cruise line?
I have worked with the team at Crystal for seven years.
Which geographical area do you cover?
The South of England and the Channel Islands.
What’s the funniest thing that has happened to you on the road?
Losing my car in Tunbridge Wells. I was searching for hours and had to get people to help me. Embarrassingly, it turned out that I was looking in the wrong car park!
What’s the strangest question you have ever been asked about cruise?
If I don’t get off the ship do I still have to pay all the port taxes? A strange client and a thrifty one at that too!
How many of your cruise line’s ships have you sailed on? Do you have a favourite?
Do I really have to choose? My first-ever cruise was on Crystal Symphony, so I feel very sentimental about her but I also love Crystal Serenity. Last year I got to experience our brand-new river yacht, Crystal Mozart, and I was totally blown away, which you don’t always expect to happen after seven years with a company.
Do you have a favourite onboard restaurant and why?
All the restaurants are fabulous, but my favourite has to be Silk Road – the Asian restaurant on board both Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity. It features the cuisine of famed master chef Nobu Matsuhisa and also has a lovely sushi bar. I can’t wait to try our new restaurant Churrascaria, which will serve Brazilian-inspired tapas and Caipirinhas.
Which port would you definitely disembark in? What would you do there?
Definitely Sorrento, as there is so much to see and do. Luckily, each time I have been there Crystal has overnighted, so it gives you plenty of time to enjoy the delights of the Amalfi coast, Pompeii, Capri and more.
And which port would you opt to stay onboard – and why?
I never stay on board unless I have been to the port numerous times, as I love travelling and get so excited opening my eyes each morning to a new destination and adventure.
Which cruise is on your bucket list?
The North West Passage. This is a 32-day journey travelling through the virtually untouched Arctic region to engage with the local Inuit communities, interact with wildlife and experience expedition-style cruising. It looks totally inspiring. This is the last planned Arctic itinerary for Crystal’s classic ocean ships but it does offer a glimpse into the experiences to come with Crystal Yacht Expedition Cruises.
If you didn’t work in the cruise industry, what do you think you would do?
I would have loved to work in the performing arts. My family always said I was a little actress and I can just see myself starring alongside Daniel Craig (left) in a Bond film.
If you could name a ship, what would you call it?
Hope – and it would be a charity ship cruising around the world spreading love, as we all need a little love in our lives.