Cruise specialist Dawn Wootton of Blackpool’s The Travel Village talks to Benjamin Coren about meeting Bahamian locals and experiencing an NCL cruise, the Bahamas and Miami for the first time.
Q. What were your thoughts when you found out you had won a place on the Cover Stars trip?
A. It was an extremely nice surprise to discover I was going on the trip. I’d never been to the Bahamas before or on an NCL cruise. The ship was lovely and the staff and service were excellent.
Q. What did you think of Norwegian Sky?
A. I’ve been selling cruise for the last 13 years and Norwegian Sky was lovely. The atmosphere in the atrium was great when we boarded, with a pianist playing. I was particularly impressed with the check-in process, which was quick and well organised. The staterooms were beautiful and we all had a balcony, which was a real treat.
Q. What was your trip highlight?
A. We went on a shore excursion to a local candle factory in Freeport in Grand Bahama, which was brilliant. The owner was hilarious, she was so enthusiastic, and a proper character. She talked about how they make candles and she obviously really loves what she does. I really enjoy seeing and experiencing how people live and work around the world.
Q. Has the trip benefited business?
A. The Bahamas will be easier to sell now – I didn’t realise at first how easy it is to get to from Miami. It’s great to go on trips and experience destinations and products first hand. Some of the girls on the trip hadn’t been on a cruise before and it makes a huge difference once you’ve been on one. Even though I know the product, it makes it easier because I’ve experienced NCL myself; I can talk about the experience and the excellent service on board with customers.
Q. What did you think of Miami?
A. I’d not been to Miami before and it really has the wow factor. We visited South Beach where the restaurants and bars are among the art deco buildings. I love cars, so it was brilliant to see all the classic cars and it’s a great place to people-watch. We stayed at the Eden Roc Miami Beach, right on the beach.
Q. What was the group like?
A. We had Facebook and WhatsApp groups set up so we could talk to each other before we met. It was a great group and we’ve all kept in touch, sharing when someone has gone on the cover of Travel Weekly.
Q. Did you like doing the photoshoot?
A. I had my shoot on the private island and I was very nervous, but Steve the photographer was great. It went much better than I thought. They did it with the ship in the background and joked they should call the picture ‘Norwegian Dawn’ as that’s the name of one of NCL’s ships. I’d always thought models did a daft job, but it’s not daft, it’s difficult – as you have to be told how to stand and what to do. You’re also advised what to wear!
Q. What else did you enjoy?
A. They had a white party night, which was great fun. It was good for people- watching and seeing everyone dancing. The excursion to visit NCL’s private island, Great Stirrup Cay, was stunning. While most of the others went swimming with the pigs, I took advantage of the island itself. It was great to sit in the cabana and relax, enjoying the scenery and being waited on all day.
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