20-year-old Bethany Brandwood from ArrangeMY escape, who has already taken 40 cruises, tells Benjamin Coren about her first time sailing with Norwegian Cruise Line.
Q. How did you feel when you had won a place on the Cover Stars trip?
A. I was ecstatic, my manager said I should go for it. I put my entry on social media and loads of people liked it. I’d never done anything like it before and didn’t think I’d win. Deep down you wish you will, but you prepare yourself not to. I was at work with just my manager when I got the call. I was so excited I was cheering.
Q. What were the other Cover Stars like?
A. Before we got to the airport, we had all been chatting [on Facebook] so we got to know each other before we went, which was great. The whole group was lovely and we got on really well. We are all still in touch – everyone wished me a happy birthday recently. We see each other at events and had a reunion at the Globes.
Pictured: Group selfie
Q. How was the flight?
A. On the way out we were all really excited and the British Airways crew was fantastic and couldn’t do enough for us. I was chatting to the crew, eating Magnums and drinking wine with David, one of the other Cover Stars.
Q. Have you cruised with NCL before?
A. I’ve done quite a lot of cruising but this was my first time on a Norwegian Cruise Line ship. The premium all-inclusive option, which they had at the time, was great. It’s now been reworked as Free at Sea. The food was amazing, I loved dining around the different restaurants. We tried them all, and Cagney’s Steakhouse was my favourite. The steak was beautiful, and it was a nice environment for our last evening on board. We saved the best for last. I’ve been on about 40 cruises so far – mostly on family holidays. I went on my first cruise
when I was two years old and, for me, it’s the best way to travel!
Pictured: Ellie Armstrong and Bethany
Q. What did you think of Miami?
A. I’d never been to Miami before and the Eden Roc hotel on Miami Beach was a real eye-opener. It was in such a prime location;and we could have breakfast and stroll along the beach. The room was fabulous. When I walked in I almost went teary-eyed: there was an amazing panoramic sea view. The beach, which you could walk straight out onto, was my favourite feature – and it was great to have our own personal sun beds out front.
Q. How were the Bahamas?
A. Although I’ve cruised my whole life, I’d never been to the Bahamas. Nassau was amazing, I had heard from my mum and dad how beautiful the town and the beach was and how white the sand is. We went on a city tour and walked up the Queen’s Staircase in Nassau. I’m a bit of a Royal fan, so I loved that.
Pictured: Bethany swimming with pigs in the Bahamas
Q. What is your best memory from the trip?
A. Swimming with the pigs. When people think of the Bahamas, they think of the pigs and they were sweet little things. I was nervous feeding them an apple at first, but in the end I got some good selfies with one that took a liking to me.
Q. Where was your photoshoot?
A. My photoshoot was in the atrium on Norwegian Sky so it was a bit more formal [than the others] in terms of how I needed to dress. I was standing on the staircase and it reminded me of that scene in Titanic. Steve [the photographer] was so lovely, when I started to get nervous, he got me to relax. It was a good experience and it was nice to have that moment. I was pleased it was on the ship as I love cruise ships. I would definitely do it again as I love having my picture taken.
Pictured: Ellie Armstrong and Bethany
‘I started work at 15’
I grew up in Cyprus and lived there for 10 years. At school, when I was 15, we did work experience and I joined Century Travel. They then offered me a position and I did two days a week there and three days at school.
In May 2017 I packed by bags and moved to England on my own. I got in touch with Jennifer Lynch who was in the process of setting by ArrangeMY escape in Worcester and went for an interview.
We opened in December 2017 and I’ve been here ever since. It’s been great, as a business we’ve won four local awards and earlier this year I won the Young Leisure Agent of the Year Award at the Travel Weekly Agent Achievement Awards. I also got to attend The Globes which were fantastic. It was one of the best nights ever. We all had a little photoshoot at the hotel together, like our Cover Stars trip.
About our sponsors
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.