Virgin Holidays personal holiday advisor Katie Watt joined the 2019 Cover Stars on her first fam trip. She told Benjamin Coren about her NCL sailing.

Q. What made you enter Cover Stars?
A. I saw an advert on our work Facebook group and thought I’d give it a go. I have never won anything before, so I was really shocked to receive the call. I was on holiday in Kos in Greece when I got the news, celebrating my boyfriend’s sister’s wedding, so it was great news.

Q. Had you ever been to Miami or the Caribbean before?
A. I had never been to either. Miami was amazing, it reminded me a little bit of Australia’s Gold Coast but with more super yachts and classic cars. I also loved the buzz of South Beach. Over the course of the cruise we went to Grand Bahama, Nassau and Great Stirrup Cay. I thought it was stunning, and the beaches really got me – especially the ones in Grand Bahama. I loved that we got a chance to swim with pigs there too, which was a big tick off the bucket list for me.

Q. What did you think of the hotel in Miami, Eden Roc?
A. We each had a junior suite, which had a real wow factor when opening that door. It was a great moment. We were all messaging each other in the WhatsApp group as we were so excited. Within 10 minutes of going into the room I had eaten the whole welcome cheese platter and was running a bath.

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Q. What did you think of Norwegian Sky?
A. It was fantastic. That’s the first time I had ever been on a cruise ship and it was so overwhelming. I didn’t realise how big cruise ships were, I really couldn’t believe it. The white party on the ship was so cool, they had ice sculptures everywhere and we really got involved in the party. By this point of the trip we were all quite close as a group and we could all let our hair down and enjoy the evening in the same way the customers would. There was a mix of families, teenagers and adults all together.

Q. Does the experience help you in your job?
A. It’s educational to go on these trips. If you have had first-hand experience it helps you to sell someone their dream holiday. It has really increased my confidence in selling cruises, too. I can provide more information and trip tips, so I’m grateful I got to join the Cover Stars trip.

Q. Talk us through your photoshoot…
A. I had never done anything like it before, they closed part of the pool off at the back of the ship for my photoshoot, so some of the people on board were peering over to see if I was anyone important. It was really nerve-wracking, but we had a laugh doing it. I think I would do it again though, it’s exciting to sometimes go out of your comfort zone.

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Q. Did you have a favourite restaurant?
A. My favourite was the French restaurant, Le Bistro. I had never been to a restaurant so fancy! The food was amazing – I hadn’t realised how good it could be on a ship. The specialist dining is incredible. I had previously thought it tended to be buffets on cruise ships, but there are some great restaurants on board.

Q. Any selling tips?
A. It was the first time I had ever flown with British Airways and we flew back in World Traveller Plus. It was so comfortable and I would definitely recommend it for customers, especially those flying overnight. I slept the entire way home. Having the balcony cabin on the ship made such a difference and I will always recommend the cabin upgrade to my customers now. After seeing it and experiencing it first-hand, it’s great to have that extra space and the balcony to go outside on.


Katie’s career so far

I’m currently in my first travel job. I started at Virgin Holidays about a year and a half ago in the concession in Debenhams in Woking. I returned from backpacking and realised I wanted a career in travel.

My boyfriend and I spent time travelling across Asia, New Zealand, Australia and a little bit of America and as soon as I got home I knew I needed to change my career. Previously I had been working in an office doing payroll for a health care recruitment company.

This was my first fam trip. I was very grateful for the opportunity to go on it. The whole trip was really exciting and is one of the benefits of working in the travel industry. I still can’t believe to this day that it happened.