Hays Travel agent Sophie Brown had never seen a cruise ship before heading to Miami to experience NCL’s new vessel, Norwegian Escape on a trip she described as ‘amazing’.

Q: What was the highlight of the trip?
I had never even seen a cruise ship before the trip, so to see a brand new one – I couldn’t believe my eyes. It definitely exceeded my expectations. I thought cruising might be quite prescriptive, with lots of queuing, but it was laid-back and felt quite like a hotel. The full scale of it didn’t hit me until I was looking down at the pool and could see the back of the ship. The open-air nightclub was a highlight for me – there’s a big screen and a cocktail bar and it was a great laugh with the group of us. I didn’t think the day at sea would be a highlight but there was so much to do on board. There was a hot dog-eating contest and we went in the pool.

Q: Has the experience helped you to sell more cruise?
NCL is definitely one of the best cruise lines out there – the prices for Norwegian Escape are fantastic. It regularly has great offers, the standard of the cabins is excellent and overall Norwegian is good value. Since going on the Cover Stars trip I have confirmed four NCL cruises on Escape, Breakaway and Gem, and on June 22 I confirmed a cruise on Epic from Barcelona. Other colleagues have confirmed Norwegian cruises through my recommendation too. The trip has even given me more confidence in selling river cruise.

Q: What did you make of the flight?
I was chatting with the Virgin cabin crew and they were really friendly. The food was great and there was plenty of space. I watched lots of films and really enjoyed myself. I would definitely recommend Virgin over other carriers – the media offering on board sets it apart for me. We sell a lot of transatlantic holidays so this experience has helped me advise clients that it’s worth paying for quality.

Q: How were the Simon Malls?
We got a lot of vouchers so I spoiled myself and bought loads of make-up and a Pandora ring. As I was walking in to meet the stylist at Sawgrass Mills I saw a beautiful dress in the window – the type I would never think to try on myself – but that was exactly the dress she chose for me. We added red lipstick and I felt amazing. I have worn my dress twice since I got it, on special occasions.

Q: Where were you taken for your photoshoot?
I was taken right out of the shopping centre and there were beautiful palm trees behind me. I started posing and people were beeping their horns and shouting ‘happy birthday!’ – birthday photoshoots must be a thing over there!

Q: Does the Bahamas live up to expectations?
The Bahamas blew my mind. We went in the water at the Blue Lagoon and it was so relaxing. There were palm trees, beautiful fish and the port was sectioned off. It was gorgeous.

Q: What made you enter Cover Stars?
When I applied I was working towards my NVQ as a Hays Travel apprentice, while working full-time at the Middlesbrough branch. I thought it would be great to represent young people working in the travel trade, sharing the success I’ve had working as a Hays Travel consultant. Travel can open so many doors.

Sophie’s outfit

Sophie simply glows in this gorgeous arabesque-style skater dress from Bloomingdales – The Outlet Store. Shot outside The Colonnade Outlets by the palm trees, Sophie’s own jewellery and shoes help complete her A-list summer look. Sophie’s look was created and shot at Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s top shopping destination – Sawgrass Mills including The Colonnade Outlets. Her glamorous make-up was done by Bare Minerals and stylish hair-do provided by Master Cuts.

Sophie’s CV

November 2015–to date Intermediate sales consultant at Hays Travel
2013-15 Apprentice at Hays Travel, gaining NVQ level 2 and 3 in travel services
2010-13: Studied for a Btec diploma in travel and tourism at Middlesbrough College. As part of her studies, Sophie did work experience at Thomas Cook and Dawson & Sanderson

About our sponsors

Eden Roc Hotel is Hays agent’s top choice. Sophie Brown had not been into the heart of Miami before the Cover Stars trip. Eden Roc and the city itself changed her perception of a what she had imagined was a “built-up metropolis”. She has been recommending both to clients ever since.

“I had never been to Miami Beach and I thought it would be quite built up, but it was brilliant. It had a real vibrancy – people were wearing everything from business suits to bikinis,” she said.

“Eden Roc was indescribable. I had seen pictures in the past but nothing could prepare me for how it actually was – we all had ocean views overlooking the pool. Every morning I woke up with the sunrise.

“We are putting a big focus on Eden Roc: whenever we get an enquiry or recommend the Bahamas cruise from Miami, we automatically recommend it.

“I have been recommending the hotel ever since, including as part of multi-centres with Orlando, for example.”