We recently caught up with Jamie from TravelBlogJamie / Jamie’s Holiday Channel and the Travel Blog Jamie website to talk all things ship! We wanted to find out what he has planned for the next year and get his opinions on the new P&O ship, Iona.
Let’s zip back to 2014 quickly… We’d just finished watching Titanic (probably!) and thought, let’s go on a cruise. A few taps later we were booked on to P&O Aurora – that was easy.
Totally unprepared for the cruise we had just booked, we decided to hit YouTube to see what we could find, and this is where found Jamie’s Holiday Channel.
Thanks for your time Jamie, I know you are very busy at the moment with the summer coming up – are you off on an adventure during the holidays?
Hey Gavin – really appreciate you taking the time out too. I think you know me too well already – yes, a few adventures coming up for the summer. One possible “secret” cruise in the pipeline, but otherwise I am heading to Guernsey on P&O Ventura for what I call a “cheeky 2 nighter” with some members of our very own Facebook cruise group, then straight on to P&O Britannia for a 2 week Mediterranean cruise, heading to some new ports for me, such as Cartagena, Alicante, Barcelona and Cannes. I used to live in both Spain and France so I am buzzing about this and to use my languages too! Whilst not cruise related, I then have 16 nights in Florida to look forward to with my niece (I call it my second home as I tend to visit most years). Feeling very spoilt but this teacher uses his holiday time to the max!
Oh wow! You have a very busy summer planned, we are looking forward to all the updates. You’ve been cruising for a few years now but what made you book your first cruise?
Actually it was a long time coming as my first cruise wasn’t until I was 37! I had pre and mis-conceptions that cruising would be out of my reach, financially, and I was worried it would be a bit too formal for me. My partner had spent years cruising on the Canberra with family and subsequently P&O. One Christmas I took the plunge and booked a surprise Christmas cruise for us both on P&O Oceana and I was hooked within seconds. I still remember seeing the “to the ship” sign as we boarded which made my hairs stand on end! Does that just happen to me?! And the thought of stepping on to a ship, knowing there was no dry land for a few days, was quite overwhelmingly terrifying and exciting at the same time. I was like a child in a sweet shop for the whole cruise – nothing wasn’t exciting or mesmerising for me; the vastness of Oceana, the facilities, the crew, the food, and those wonderful ports which were on our doorstep, winning on the roulette table… I came home and booked another right away, then another… You know the routine, Gavin!
Oh yeah, we love seeing the “To the ship” sign! You are a certified cruise addict that’s for sure! You have worked your way through the P&O fleet and have cruised with other companies too… but which ship is your favourite?
Oh no I was dreading this question! Ha ha! Honestly, I don’t have a favourite ship, because all ships come to life in different ways depending on the itinerary, the weather, the use of facilities, the type of cabin, the crew and the passengers, all of which can and do differ every time for us. I’ve cruised some ships plenty of times, and each voyage has been completely different. I like small ships, large ships, cold destinations, hot destinations, the lot! I can say that each cruise line offers something unique and therefore it is important to try them out. I’ve so far only cruised 3 lines, but next year that will increase to 6 and I cannot wait.
Variety is the spice of life as they say and we can’t wait to hear what you think of the other cruise lines, especially Cunard as that’s one of our favourites (along with P&O of course!)! Now, this may be a bit predictable but which cruise destination is your favourite?
I feel like I am doing a bad job with these questions! There are so many amazing destinations. Can I give some highlights please?! The US West Coast holds wonderful memories with Princess cruises, in particular, sailing into San Francisco at sunrise. It was unexpectedly emotional for me seeing something so iconic, with still waters, beautiful colours of the sky reflected in the sea, and the mountains slowing turning golden. Magic. This was all ruined, of course, by my alarm going off, falling out of bed, and clumsily making my way on to my balcony wearing next to nothing to get a first glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge! For the same reasons, Flam (Norway) is hard to beat. It was absolutely silent as we gently sailed through the Fjords and mesmerising. But then again, a Caribbean cruise is perfect for a relaxing, sun soaked, rum-driven fest! Not to mention all the historical sites the Mediterranean has to offer. You see, I’m useless at this…!
To be fair, it was a tough question, but answered perfectly! At the start we mentioned you had been nominated Best Blogger at the British Cruise Awards, how did you feel when you heard the news?
Well, I didn’t realise until you and Kerrie Summers told me! I had a look, and I remember my eyes widening, frowning, going in for a closer look, and then messaging you back to thank you for telling me! Amongst all this, yes, I was thrilled, and somewhat in disbelief, especially going up against established and hugely popular bloggers, some of whom do this for a living, others who are very well established with different marketing teams from various cruise lines. I am a lone voice in that group I feel, so that makes it all the more special to me. Gavin, I hope you are on that list next year as you deserve to be with all your great work!
Tell us a little about your blogging (Travel Blog Jamie website) and videos (Jamie’s Holiday YouTube Channel) – what got you in to it and why do you do it?
OK I can answer this one! I started making “holiday” videos a number of years ago, more for memories than anything and it made sense to “store” them, so to speak, on You Tube. My first videos of Cedar Point and Disneyworld were not good, but they always make me smile even now. However, the minute I uploaded a ship tour of P&O Oceana, I couldn’t believe how many views I started to get. So, I carried on filming, editing, uploading – no frills of course, just a cheap camera and free editing software – and the viewers came.
I had messages thanking me, asking if I could film specific things, and so started the journey of blending my video diaries with what my audience told me they wanted to see. Blogging came last of all as I was working full time as a Deputy Headteacher of a Secondary School, as well as completing a Masters in Linguistics – time was in short supply! I remember in 2015 writing my first blog post about Christmas on P&O Arcadia, but that was it until February 2017.
I know the advice is to keep blogs short and sweet, but I love to write, and to be creative, so I don’t want to release blogs that do not represent me – I don’t want to be the same as everyone else. I do it because I love writing, and the fact that I now have an audience makes it all the more rewarding. I’m not in it to buy followers / subscribers, for the freebies some bloggers seek out, or to compete with anyone. I do not get side tracked by others. It’s the craft that’s most important for me and having good quality content. Now that the Masters is a distant memory I have more time to focus on blogging. What a great hobby!
You mentioned you have some cruises planned (in true cruise addict style), what can we expect from you over the next year?
Oh wow – I have 7 cruises in the pipeline on 5 different cruises lines (CMV, Celebrity, Cunard, Princess and P&O) all over the world, and a few land-based trips to look forward to. I have never done a Baltic cruise, which is coming up, and we will be back in California and the Caribbean too. There are a lot of blogs and videos to come this year and next, for sure. Likewise I have everything crossed that I make the final 3 for the British Cruise Awards 2018 – it may be a long shot but I have a loyal following and I hope they like my work enough to have cast their votes!
They were some great answers! Now, we know you are a huge P&O fan just like us, and we’re going easy on you and don’t have a final question, instead we’re just going to say… Iona.
And I am just going to say #WeLoveIona! From the animations she looks stunning, don’t you think? Yes!!!! A blend of traditional P&O but for the next generation of cruisers who no longer want fixed dining, routine and overly formal experiences, but are looking for a more flexible and personalised touch. – a real game changer for P&O I think. I’m particularly looking forward to the vast number of dining options, the bright, spacious and multi-purpose Grand Atrium, Skydome with its pool and night time aerial performances, as well as the very chic looking Emerald Bar, the Observation Lounge with sweeping views and adults only areas for grumpy souls like me who don’t have children! What’s not to like? With so many lines ordering new (and more environmentally friendly) ships, the future of cruise holidays is looking to the horizon. I’ll see you on board!
Thank you so much for your time Travel blog Jamie, we have really enjoyed reading this and we’re sure everyone else will too!
Pictures provided by Jamie Robins / Travel Blog Jamie / Jamie’s Holiday Channel.