Iglu.com’s Seb Nalden tells Josie Klein why he is so passionate about the sector
Q. What is your background in travel?
A. At the age of 22, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and a friend of mine was going to a Thomson recruitment day, so I went along with him. Having done zero research and knowing nothing about the travel industry, I somehow blagged my way through the day and began a job as a holiday advisor in Majorca a week later. I was really nervous and disorganised but I had an absolutely amazing time.
The next summer I got my act together, bought myself a folder and went out to Corfu for the season, which was fantastic as I knew what to expect. I then did a winter in Benidorm followed by a summer in Kavos – which was the best time of my life – and then to Gran Canaria. But in 2010 I decided to settle down and get a desk job. I started working in customer service for Travel Republic and then a year later switched into sales. Then in 2017 I joined Iglu.com and became a cruise expert.
I somehow blagged my way through the day and began a job as a holiday advisor in Majorca
Q. How did you find the move to cruise?
A. It was really challenging. At first there was so much to take in as the systems for each of the cruise lines are different, which made it confusing and easy to make mistakes. I had come from selling bucket and-spade holidays in Spain to selling cruises to destinations around the world. It was intimidating selling to customers who knew far more about cruise than I did as some of them had been cruising for more years than I’d celebrated Christmas. But I eventually found my feet and I absolutely love it. Cruise is the best sector in the world!
It was intimidating selling to customers who knew far more about cruise than I did
Q. What do you specialise in?
A. I sell quite broadly, but mainly focus on P&O Cruises, Marella Cruises, MSC Cruises, Princess Cruises and Cunard, with a mixture of ex-UK and fly-cruises. P&O Cruises is flying off the shelves at the moment – Mediterranean and Norwegian fjords sailings are the most popular. MSC Virtuosa and Euribia departures out of Southampton are also selling really well.
Q. Who are your customers?
A. I’ve got a real range of clients, but the majority are couples over 50. I often get enquiries from families but because we sell a lot of last-minute holidays, it’s almost impossible to find cabins close to each other and the only option is to split them up which parents don’t want, so that’s a trickier demographic. I do get some solo travellers as well. So many of my customers are repeats, which is lovely. Sometimes customers call up when I’m away and they refuse to book with anyone other than me and I’m really proud of that because it shows how much customers value what I do.
Sometimes customers call up when I’m away and they refuse to book with anyone other than me
Q. What is your favourite thing about your job?
A. The fam trip opportunities are just incredible. I’ve had some amazing experiences, which I’m so grateful for. I’ve taken a trip to the Philippines, did an Orlando megafam and cruised with Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Virgin Voyages and Marella Cruises. I always take a friend on fam trips and I love seeing the joy on their faces when they go on a cruise for the first time. The best thing is they go home and tell their families about it, which makes them want to go on a cruise so they book it through me. It’s an amazing circle of me taking people on a cruise and then getting bookings.
I always take a friend on fam trips and I love seeing the joy on their faces when they go on a cruise for the first time
Q. What are your expectations for cruise this year?
A. I reckon it’s going to get bigger and bigger and be even more exciting than last year. There are TV adverts for cruises constantly now which gets people excited and gets the phone ringing so I think we’re in for a mega year.
Q. Why do you love cruise so much?
A. Cruising is a phenomenal way to see the world. You go to sleep in one place and wake up in another. You’re also never bored on a cruise ship as there is so much to do. When I was a rep in resorts I’d sometimes see families sat around the pool looking bored, but you never see that on a cruise as there is constant fun if you want it. I’m so passionate about the cruise sector, I think it’s amazing and I love being part of it.
There are TV adverts for cruises constantly now which gets people excited and gets the phone ringing
What has been the highlight of your career?
I was an ambassador for Carnival Cruise Line in 2023, which was amazing. I got to go to all the soirees and on the line’s annual trip to Ibiza Rocks, which was wicked. I love the Carnival team and we had such a laugh, plus it was great to meet agents from all over the country. I was also named the top seller of Wonder of the Seas balconies in Iglu in 2022 and I won a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean for two.
But I think my main highlight is when newbies at work come up to me and ask me for advice. In sales, people often say that if you’re not answering the phones then you’re losing money, but I don’t see it like that. I’m more than happy to sit with anyone new and talk them through the systems as I know how tough it is when you start and how easy it is to get overwhelmed.
I was named the top seller of Wonder of the Seas balconies in Iglu in 2022 and I won a week-long cruise around the Mediterranean for two
It’s lovely being the guy people go to when they need help and I’m always willing to give up my time to support newcomers because it is the best industry in the world and I want people to stay in it, build their confidence and become experts.